Unprecedented in human time is the realization that the sum of cognitive sentient life does not end with people. From scientific revelations about the inner workings of animal consciousness, to the hybridization of people and technology, to the development of artificial intelligence, the line of beings seeking admission to the big tent of "human" rights is getting longer. And personhood, the embodiment of human justice, is evolving from the fountainhead of cognitive rights. The earth is host to innumerable species, from the durable extremophiles that inhabit lava tubes on the ocean floor to fresh water ephemera that exist for only a day. Their sheer numbers make mankind a minority in the biological catalog, but distinct in terms of intelligence. And since the departure of Neanderthals from the playing field, the high castle of human cognition has been unassailed. However, our perception of cognition is changing. Homo sapien culture is the product of a million years in the trenches. In its wake have arisen animal rights and environmental laws protecting nonhuman species and the natural world. And despite their aspirations the intent behind these laws has yet to be fully realized.1 Beings on this planet exist beneath one integument that separates the inner life from the outer world. Even as humans occupy only a thin layer in this global membrane of sentience, science and technology are exposing the spectrum of nonhuman cognition.
People tend to perform better when they are a little bit anxious and they sense a lot is at stake - whether that be at a job interview or a big speech.
Well, it turns out dogs do, too.
But much like people, a new study in the journal Animal Cognition found too much stress can send dogs into a tizzy. Researchers at Duke found that a little extra stress and stimulation makes hyper dogs crack under pressure but gives mellow dogs an edge.
"When you're taking a test, for example, it helps to be a little bit anxious so you don't just blow it off," said study co-author Emily Bray, who was an undergraduate at Duke at the time of the study. "But if you're too nervous, even if you study and you really know the material, you aren't going to perform at your best."
Researchers first observed this pattern known in psychology as Yerkes-Dodson law more than a hundred years ago in lab rats. It has since been demonstrated in chickens, cats and humans.
In the new study, Bray and evolutionary anthropologists Evan MacLean and Brian Hare of Duke's Canine Cognition Center wanted to find out if the conditions that enable certain animals to do their best are dependent on the animal's underlying temperament.
In a series of experiments, the researchers challenged dogs to retrieve a meat jerky treat from a person standing behind a clear plastic barrier. To get it right, the dogs couldn't take the shortest path to reach the treat - which would only cause them to bump into the barrier and hit their heads. Instead, they had walk around the barrier to one of the open sides.
College students deal with stress on a regular basis, especially around exam time. But a relatively new anxiety-relief therapy is sweeping across our nation's campuses, along with hundreds of furry critters. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 11 percent of college students have been diagnosed or treated for anxiety in the past year, and more than 10 percent reported being diagnosed or treated for depression.
"Scientists have unpicked how the skin of the Texas horned lizard funnels water towards its mouth - and copied the principles in a plastic version. This reptile can collect water from anywhere, including the sand it walks on; the fluid then travels to its mouth through channels between its scales. A German-Austrian team quantified the skin's key features, notably the way its grooves narrow towards the snout. The bio-inspired plastic copy could have some engineering applications. Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the researchers suggest that the "passive, directional liquid transport" they have described might find a home in distilleries, heat exchangers, or small medical devices where condensation is a problem."
Just like in humans, stress can give mellow dogs an edge, but it can make hyper dogs crack, a new study suggests. The study conducted by researchers at Duke University has found that a little extra stress gives calm dogs an edge over hyper dogs. "When you're taking a test, for example, it helps to be a little bit anxious so you don't just blow it off," said co-author Emily Bray, who was an undergraduate at Duke at the time of the study. "But if you're too nervous, even if you study and you really know the material, you aren't going to perform at your best," Bray said. Researchers first observed this pattern more than a hundred years ago in lab rats, but it has since been demonstrated in chickens, cats and humans. In the study, a team consisting of Bray and evolutionary anthropologists Evan MacLean and Brian Hare of Duke's Canine Cognition Centre wanted to find out if the conditions that enable certain animals to do their best also depend on the animal's underlying temperament. In a series of experiments, the researchers challenged dogs to retrieve a meat jerky treat from a person standing behind a clear plastic barrier that was six feet wide and three feet tall. The dogs had to resist the impulse to try to take the shortest path to reach the treat - which would only cause them to bump their heads against the plastic - and instead walk around the barrier to one of the open sides. In one set of trials, an experimenter stood behind the barrier holding a treat and called the dog's name in a calm, flat voice. In another set of trials, the experimenter enthusiastically waved the treat in the air and used an urgent, excited voice. The researchers tested 30 pet dogs, ranging in age from an eight-month-old Jack Russell terrier to an 11-year-old Vizsla. They also tested 76 assistance dogs at Canine Companions for Independence in California. "The service dogs were generally more cool in the face of stress or distraction, whereas the pet dogs tended to be more excitable and high-strung," Bray said. For the dogs that were naturally calm and laid-back - measured by how quickly they tended to wag their tails - increasing the level of excitement and urgency boosted their ability to stay on task and get the treat. But for excitable dogs the pattern was reversed. Increasing the level of stimulation only made them take longer. The results will help researchers develop better tests to determine which dogs are likely to graduate from service dog training programs, for example. The study was published in the journal Animal Cognition. — PTI
The world's rarest ape has an increased chance of survival after a team led by international conservation charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) found a new family group of Hainan gibbons (Nomascus hainanus).
Engineers looking for inspiration for better drone camera design might want to set their gaze toward lovebirds. Lovebirds are famous for their ability to quickly maneuver through densely cluttered airspace, and Stanford engineers now show that this is likely made possible by the birds' ability to turn their heads at a speed that is tops in the animal world.
"During rapid flight through densely cluttered forests every split second counts. Having more time to see and react to your environment gives you an edge in making the right decision," said David Lentink, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford. "Clearly, there are evolutionary benefits for behaviors that help avoid crashing in complex environments."
Lentink and his colleagues used stereo high-speed cameras to film the birds as they took off and performed a rapid turning maneuver before landing on the initial perch. Analysis of the stereo videos showed that the birds could turn their heads at speeds reaching 2,700 degrees per second, as fast as insects, and orient to a new target with incredible accuracy.
"They are almost four times faster than humans at solving a similar visual task," said Daniel Kress, a postdoctoral fellow in Lentink's lab and first author on the research paper. "Basically, if lovebirds could spin their head a full 360 degrees, they could do it so fast that it would go unnoted by a blinking human."
The work could inform the design of drone vision systems in a couple of ways. The researchers noticed that the birds only began turning their heads during the end of the wing downstroke, maximizing the length of time that their line of sight would be unobscured. The research suggests that rotating the camera gimbal on a drone faster during a turn could improve visual quality.
"If drone gimbals would be as fast as the neck of a lovebird, making a saccade of 60 degrees in about 40 milliseconds, they would be able to reorient the camera in a single frame, since typical drone cameras operate at about 30 frames per second," Lentink said. "With only one frame blurred, the videos would essentially be free from blur due to camera movement, even during dramatic maneuvers."
The Migratory Connectivity Project seeks to connect people and cultures throughout the Americas by fostering the public’s appreciation for migratory birds Did you know the coast of Texas is a critically important place for migratory birds in the U.S.
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