Academic journal article Science and Children

Dogs Imitate Novel Human Actions and Store Them in Memory

Academic journal article Science and Children

Dogs Imitate Novel Human Actions and Store Them in Memory

Article excerpt

Dogs can learn, retain, and replay actions taught by humans after a short delay. According to a recent study by researchers from Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary, this deferred imitation provides the first evidence of dogs' cognitive ability to both encode and recall actions.

Researchers looked at whether dogs possess the cognitive ability of deferred imitation. Eight adult pet dogs were trained by their owners with the "do as I do" method and then made to wait for short intervals (5-30 seconds) before they were allowed to copy the observed human action (e.g., walk around a bucket or ring a bell). The researchers observed whether the dogs were able to imitate human actions after delays ranging from 40 seconds to 10 minutes, during which time the dogs were distracted by being encouraged to take part in other activities. The researchers were looking for evidence of the dogs' ability to encode and recall the demonstrated action after an interval.

The tests show that dogs are able to reproduce familiar actions and novel actions after different delays--familiar actions after intervals as long as 10 minutes; novel tasks after a delay of 1 minute. …

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