Thursday, December 23, 2010

UF's Canine Cognition Lab & Doglando

The University of Doglando will be hosting the Canine Cognition Lab of University of Florida in helping them conduct research on dog eye contact with humans.

UF's Canine Cognition Lab will be using permitted Dogs attending daycare at the University of Doglando, starting December 27-29, 2010.

To learn more about the Canine Cognition Lab click here.

This is part of the lab's Gesture Study Research:

This research has focused on the ability of dogs to follow human given cues and non-human cues with similar characteristics or topography. Cues include pointing, head turning, gaze, reaching, token placement, and bowing among others. We are currently investigating the stimulus properties necessary for dogs to use such cues to solve an object choice task. An object choice task is a test in which food is hidden in one of two or more locations and a cue is given to direct the dog to the correct location. The dog is then allowed to approach one of the locations in attempt to find the food.
Current data suggests that the human element is a key factor in determining if a cue will be used successfully. The size of the cue and human attention may also be significant, and follow up studies are currently being conducted to explore these and other properties of the stimuli further.
Research will continue with dogs from various rearing environments and niches, including shelter dogs, working dogs, and non-domesticated species. Although the current view in the field attributes the ability domestic pet dogs have to follow cues to a special genetically based cognition, we have demonstrated that with the correct rearing environment and active socialization non-domesticated canids, wolves, can also perform well above chance on an object choice paradigm using a human point. At the same time, pet dogs tested outdoors and dogs living in an animal shelter performed poorly on the task suggesting that experience and environmental factors need to be given more attention in research on the domestic dog's sensitivity to human cues.

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