Intelligence - Animal and Plant Intelligence

Animal and Plant Intelligence

Although humans have been the primary focus of intelligence researchers, scientists have also attempted to investigate animal intelligence, or more broadly, animal cognition. These researchers are interested in studying both mental ability in a particular species, and comparing abilities between species. They study various measures of problem solving, as well as mathematical and language abilities. Some challenges in this area are defining intelligence so that it means the same thing across species (e.g. comparing intelligence between literate humans and illiterate animals), and then operationalizing a measure that accurately compares mental ability across different species and contexts.

Wolfgang Köhler's pioneering research on the intelligence of apes is a classic example of research in this area. Stanley Coren's book, The Intelligence of Dogs is a notable popular book on the topic. (See also: Dog intelligence.) Nonhuman animals particularly noted and studied for their intelligence include chimpanzees, bonobos (notably the language-using Kanzi) and other great apes, dolphins, elephants and to some extent parrots, rats and ravens. Controversy exists over the extent to which these judgments of intelligence are accurate.

Cephalopod intelligence also provides important comparative study. Cephalopods appear to exhibit characteristics of significant intelligence, yet their nervous systems differ radically from those of most other notably intelligent life-forms (mammals and birds).

It has been argued that plants should also be classified as being intelligent based on their ability to sense the environment and adjust their morphology, physiology and phenotype accordingly.

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