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Animals Are 'Stuck In Time' With Little Idea Of Past Or Future, Study Suggests
Science Daily ^ | 4-7-2008 | University of Western Ontario.

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 Western’s 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 don’t actually form memories of when the discovery occurred. That is, the rats can’t 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 hasn’t 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.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: animals; future; past; time
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To: VR-21
My two cats punish me whenever I leave for more than two days.

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.

21 posted on 04/07/2008 2:59:21 PM PDT by meowmeow (In Loving Memory of Our Dear Viking Kitty (1987-2006))
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To: blam

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.


22 posted on 04/07/2008 2:59:25 PM PDT by TexanToTheCore (If it ain't Rugby or Bullriding, it's for girls.........................................)
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To: babble-on

what a great movie!


23 posted on 04/07/2008 2:59:39 PM PDT by brivette
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To: blam

Women never forget anything.


24 posted on 04/07/2008 3:01:10 PM PDT by Mark was here (The earth is bipolar.)
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To: Ronin

“I’m convinced my cats are psychic...”

Absolutely true. My wife’s cat knows - through walls - when I as much as *think* about the laser pointer.


25 posted on 04/07/2008 3:02:39 PM PDT by PCBMan (We hit a snag when the universe imploded. But Dad seemed cautiously optimistic.)
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To: blam

This explains why my cat does not understand that feeding time is 7am and 7pm, despite my repeated attempts to tell him that. :)


26 posted on 04/07/2008 3:03:38 PM PDT by Chili Girl
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To: blam

Or as liberal reccommend - they’re “living in the moment”...


27 posted on 04/07/2008 3:03:55 PM PDT by GOPJ (Wall Street game: Privatize profits and socialize losses.Freeper Mad_Tom_Rackham)
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To: Wonder Warthog

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!


28 posted on 04/07/2008 3:04:38 PM PDT by Red_Devil 232 (VietVet - USMC All Ready On The Right? All Ready On The Left? All Ready On The Firing Line!)
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To: blam
I don’t know much about rats (thankfully) but I can tell you that Willie the Wonder Cat knows exactly how much time has passed since his last feeding and he’s not shy about letting me know.

Photobucket

Mornings around my house look at lot like this:

Feed the Cat
29 posted on 04/07/2008 3:04:50 PM PDT by Caramelgal (Rely on the spirit and meaning of the teachings, not on the words or superficial interpretations)
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To: meowmeow
...what Saturday is...

FYI that's 'Caturday'...

30 posted on 04/07/2008 3:06:02 PM PDT by steveo (Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.)
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To: blam

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?


31 posted on 04/07/2008 3:11:32 PM PDT by scory
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To: blam

My cat remembers not to jump onto a hot grill lid from many many years ago.


32 posted on 04/07/2008 3:11:56 PM PDT by ▀udda▀udd (7 days - 7 ways Guero >>> with a floating, shifting, ever changing persona....)
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To: blam

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.”


33 posted on 04/07/2008 3:13:42 PM PDT by Richard Kimball (We're all criminals. They just haven't figured out what some of us have done yet.)
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To: Ronin
Of course, just touching a can of catfood does the same thing.

I feed my cats mostly dry food or canned cat food with a pull top lid but every once and a while I give them some “tuna water” along with a few small pieces of tuna fish.

I can rummage around my kitchen drawers and cooking all day long but as soon as I even touch the can opener, no matter how soundly he is sleeping and no matter where he is in the house, Willie the Wonder Cat appears out of no where and is saying: “Tuna? U got Tuna? Me like Tuna! U like Tuna! Gimme some Tuna! Gimme Tuna NOW!”
34 posted on 04/07/2008 3:20:03 PM PDT by Caramelgal (Rely on the spirit and meaning of the teachings, not on the words or superficial interpretations)
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To: meowmeow

It is bunk, I agree. My dogs ‘know’ so much it amazes me.


35 posted on 04/07/2008 3:20:59 PM PDT by Ditter
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To: dawn53

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.


36 posted on 04/07/2008 3:24:56 PM PDT by Twinkie (TWO WRONGS DON'T MAKE A RIGHT !!!)
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To: blam
Help! I'm stuck in Time!
37 posted on 04/07/2008 3:25:04 PM PDT by P.O.E. (Thank God for every morning.)
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To: scory; porter_knorr; nw_arizona_granny

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.


38 posted on 04/07/2008 3:26:04 PM PDT by LucyT
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To: Caramelgal

LOL


39 posted on 04/07/2008 3:26:56 PM PDT by Kimmers
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To: blam
Wow! Is there anything experts don't know or can't figure out?

Here I was just reading The Encyclopedia Rattus Norvegicus the other night and...

40 posted on 04/07/2008 3:28:01 PM PDT by metesky ("Brethren, leave us go amongst them." Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnston Clayton - Ward Bond- The Searchers)
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