Skip to comments.Animals Are 'Stuck In Time' With Little Idea Of Past Or Future, Study Suggests
Posted on 04/07/2008 2:39:16 PM PDT by blam
Animals Are 'Stuck In Time' With Little Idea Of Past Or Future, Study Suggests
New research indicates that rats are able to keep track of how much time has passed since they discovered a piece of cheese, be it a little or a lot of time, but they don't actually form memories of when the discovery occurred. That is, the rats can't place the memories in time. (Credit: iStockphoto/Maria Bibikova)
ScienceDaily (Apr. 7, 2008) Dog owners, who have noticed that their four-legged friend seem equally delighted to see them after five minutes away as five hours, may wonder if animals can tell when time passes. Newly published research from The University of Western Ontario may bring us closer to answering that very question.
William Roberts and his colleagues in Westerns Psychology Department found that rats are able to keep track of how much time has passed since they discovered a piece of cheese, be it a little or a lot, but they dont actually form memories of when the discovery occurred. That is, the rats cant place the memories in time.
The research team, led by Roberts, designed an experiment in which rats visited the arms of a maze at different times of day. Some arms contained moderately desirable food pellets, and one arm contained a highly desirable piece of cheese. Rats were later returned to the maze with the cheese removed on certain trials and with the cheese replaced with a pellet on others.
All told, three groups of rats were tested in the research using three varying cues: when, how long ago or when plus how long ago.
Only the cue of how long ago food was encountered was used successfully by the rats.
These results, the researchers say, suggest that episodic-like memory in rats is qualitatively different from human episodic memory, which involves retention of the point in past time when an event occurred.
"The rats remember whether they did something, such as hoarded food a few hours or five days ago, explained Roberts. The more time that has passed, the weaker the memory may be. Rats may learn to follow different courses of action using weak and strong memory traces as cues, thus responding differently depending on how long ago an event occurred. However, they do not remember that the event occurred at a specific point in past time.
Previous studies have suggested that rats and scrub jays (a relative of the crow and the blue jay) appear to remember storing or discovering various foods, but it hasnt been clear whether the animals were remembering exactly when these events happened or how much time had elapsed.
This research, said Roberts, supports the theory I introduced that animals are stuck in time, with no sense of time extending into the past or future.
The results of the research, entitled Episodic-Like Memory in Rats: Is it Based on When or How Long Ago, appear in the journal Science, April 4, 2008.
Adapted from materials provided by University of Western Ontario.
Our cats know what time we're supposed to get up, what time we're supposed to be home, what Saturday is (God forbid we are away from the house that day), that when they are tossed in the car, a left turn at the light means we're going to visit favorite Uncle K - so no meowing - and a right turn means we're going to the vet - so lots of meowing.
This study is bunk.
I disagree. Both my cat and my dog have accurate timeclocks.
When I come home early, the dog takes a long time to get home to greet me. If I am on time, she is there at the gate.
The cat wakes me up just before the alarm clock goes off. Maybe ten minutes.
what a great movie!
Women never forget anything.
“Im convinced my cats are psychic...”
Absolutely true. My wife’s cat knows - through walls - when I as much as *think* about the laser pointer.
This explains why my cat does not understand that feeding time is 7am and 7pm, despite my repeated attempts to tell him that. :)
Or as liberal reccommend - they’re “living in the moment”...
It in now 5:04. My Two Irish Setters are letting me know loudly that is past 5:00 and it is time for them to eat!
FYI that's 'Caturday'...
Well, I don’t know about all this. I have to ask myself why some animals exhibit what sure looks an awful lot like loyalty and even affection bordering on love for their masters. Every once in a while I read a story about a dog (seems it is always a dog but maybe other animals too) saving the life of a human master - sometimes incurring injury or even death in doing so. How do the scientists explain that kind of behavior? It certainly makes no sense in terms of “instinct”.
But then I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Scientists have so far utterly failed to explain honor, love, loyalty, faith, honesty or any of the higher ideals that humans express routinely. And scientists, so far as I am aware, are all humans. You would think that what with working with a human mind every day of their lives they would have developed some insight as to how and why it works the way it does. But they haven’t. Why should it be expected that they will do any better with the minds of non-human creatures?
My cat remembers not to jump onto a hot grill lid from many many years ago.
Good grief. Now they’re doing research studies on old George Carlin routines. I think this one about dogs thinking everything will last forever was from “Carlin on Campus.”
It is bunk, I agree. My dogs ‘know’ so much it amazes me.
Heh. I’ve noticed that my cats are so funny about sticking their heads under some small table or bench, closing their eyes, leaving their bodies and their fat behinds sticking out in a walkway and act like they feel completely hidden and safe because THEY can’t see US.
Magpies remember when they leave a twig on my deck and will return to retrieve it. Even tho they have other bad habits, Magpies will not remove a twig belonging to another bird.
Here I was just reading The Encyclopedia Rattus Norvegicus the other night and...