The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #59418 Message #2646541
Posted By: Amos
02-Jun-09 - 11:42 AM
Thread Name: BS: The Mother of all BS threads
Subject: RE: BS: The Mother of all BS threads
NEw evidence concerning Chongo's deep-seated mental aberrations:
"If you own a dog, especially a dog that has anointed your favorite rug, you know that an animal is capable of apologizing. He can whimper and slouch and tuck his tail and look positively mortified — "I don't know what possessed me." But is he really feeling sorry?
Could any animal feel true pangs of regret? Scientists once scorned this notion as silly anthropomorphism, and I used to side with the skeptics who dismissed these displays of contrition as variations of crocodile tears. Animals seemed too in-the-moment, too busy chasing the next meal, to indulge in much self-recrimination. If old animals had a song, it would be "My Way."
Yet as new reports keep appearing — moping coyotes, rueful monkeys, tigers that cover their eyes in remorse, chimpanzees that second-guess their choices — the more I wonder if animals do indulge in a little paw-wringing.
Your dog may not share Hamlet's dithering melancholia, but he might have something in common with Woody Allen.
The latest data comes from brain scans of monkeys trying to win a large prize of juice by guessing where it was hidden. When the monkeys picked wrongly and were shown the location of the prize, the neurons in their brain clearly registered what might have been, according to the Duke University neurobiologists who recently reported the experiment in Science.
"This is the first evidence that monkeys, like people, have 'would-have, could-have, should-have' thoughts," said Ben Hayden, one of the researchers. Another of the authors, Michael Platt, noted that the monkeys reacted to their losses by shifting their subsequent guesses, just like humans who respond to a missed opportunity by shifting strategy.
"I can well imagine that regret would be highly advantageous evolutionarily, so long as one doesn't obsess over it, as in depression," Dr. Platt said. "A monkey lacking in regret might act like a psychopath or a simian Don Quixote."
In earlier experiments, both chimpanzees and monkeys that traded tokens for cucumbers responded negatively once they saw that other animals were getting a tastier treat — grapes — for the same price. They made angry sounds and sometimes flung away the cucumbers or their tokens, reported Sarah Brosnan, a psychologist at Georgia State University.
"I think animals do experience regret, as defined as the recognition of a missed opportunity," Dr. Brosnan said. "In the wild, these abilities may help them to recognize when they should forage in different areas or find a different cooperative partner who will share the spoils more equitably."..."