Scientists have used an age-old fable to help illustrate how we think differently to other animals.
Lucy Cheke, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge's Department of Experimental Psychology, expanded Aesop's fable into three tasks of varying complexity and compared the performance of Eurasian Jays with local school children.
The task that set the children apart from the Jays involved a mechanism which was counter-intuitive as it was hidden under an opaque surface. Neither the birds nor the children were able to learn how the mechanism worked, but the children were able to learn how to get the reward, whereas the birds were not.
The results of the study illustrate that children learn about cause and effect in the physical world in a different way to birds. While the Jay's appear to take account of the mechanism involved in the task, the children are more driven by simple cause-effect relationships.