Animal Psychology on TikTok?

 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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29 December 2020 18:06
 

A couple years ago a speech pathologist recorded herself saying words on buttons her dog could press.  It had a small moment of popularity on youtube/tiktok, but wasn’t a huge deal in and of itself.

Someone else saw the video this year, and has decided to do a much more thorough version.  Bunny is good and wants to play.  There’s a lot of videos of the dog pressing buttons.  It’s hard to parse out which button presses are random, and which ones are intentional, or what the dog thinks that they mean.  The owner is working with academics to provide them with documentation and experimentation to help understand what is going on inside Bunny’s brain. 

The limitations of the dog are pretty obvious.  It can take them 15-30 seconds to think through a fairly simple phrase, but at the same time you can almost see them thinking it through.  The human brain is significantly larger, and we have multiple areas that are expressly for language.  For example, one area is for speaking, and another for listening, but both are active to greater and lesser degrees during both parts of communication.  The dog in the video can form sentences with complexity of about a three year-old, but the dog’s vocabulary is much smaller, and the processing time for a thought is significantly longer.

It could be the biggest window we’ve ever had into the internal life of another species though.

 
unsmoked
 
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unsmoked
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30 December 2020 11:44
 
weird buffalo - 29 December 2020 06:06 PM


It could be the biggest window we’ve ever had into the internal life of another species though.

Then there’s the ‘art installation and performance art’ of the bowerbird.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XkPeN3AWIE

Changing the pupils in his eyes, then that crouched slow wave of one wing, reminded me of the Kabuki master I saw on 60 Minutes a few days ago.  There too - enthralled females in the audience who handed him flowers as he left the theater.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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01 January 2021 13:58
 

The limitations of anyone who thinks this “could be the biggest window we’ve ever had into the internal life of another species” are pretty obvious.

 
 
Cheshire Cat
 
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01 January 2021 19:55
 

I do find these scientific investigations into animal thought processes fascinating.

The best known of these was the breakthrough research experiments was done with the Chimpanzee, Washoe, who had a large vocabulary using sign language.

Other animals have been researched as well, including dolphins, grey parrots and crows.

I don’t find this link to the behavior of Bunny, the dog, to be of much use. Anyone who has ever had a dog as a companion knows that you don’t need talking buttons for a dog to clearly communicate with you. All you have to do is to look at your dogs body language and you will instantly know what they are feeling and what they want. They are open books to their owners.

Dogs and humans have a very intimate relationship. This is because we literally created them; we bred them from wolf pups and they have been evolved artificially to suit our needs. I think one of the things that we bred them to do was to be as attuned to us, as we are to them. There is intense communication going on between us, but it is mainly nonverbal.

 
 
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01 January 2021 20:57
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 01 January 2021 01:58 PM

The limitations of anyone who thinks this “could be the biggest window we’ve ever had into the internal life of another species” are pretty obvious.

I guess you’re right.  I forgot about some of the work teaching sign language to chimps.  I guess this just landed with me harder since I’ve never spent time with chimps.

I would compare the subjective results of this positively with attempts to communicate with dolphins.  Obviously, dolphins are probably smarter than dogs, but due to physical limitations (not the limitations of dolphins, but the physical limitations of being species that live in water versus us on land, and extremely different anatomy) communication with dolphins has been pretty scarce.

I find it more interesting than communication with chimps.  Even though they are closer relatives in terms of evolution, they don’t live in our lives as directly as dogs.  With dogs we don’t just stand to learn about their own subjective experience, but a completely new and alternate subjective experience about our own lives… ie. how dogs view us.

 
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01 January 2021 21:05
 
Cheshire Cat - 01 January 2021 07:55 PM

I don’t find this link to the behavior of Bunny, the dog, to be of much use. Anyone who has ever had a dog as a companion knows that you don’t need talking buttons for a dog to clearly communicate with you. All you have to do is to look at your dogs body language and you will instantly know what they are feeling and what they want. They are open books to their owners.

I agree and disagree on this.  Every few videos the owner highlights non-human phrases that the dog uses.  They’re phrases that the owner didn’t teach the dog, but that the dog uses on a regular basis.  Picking up the meaning of those phrases requires a lot of context, and very well could be wrong, but it indicates that the dog is communicating ideas that are not necessarily obvious from our perspective, which might be hard to glean purely from body language.

I’ve done a lot of dog training.  My grandparents used to breed and train hunting dogs.  An aunt was a vet, and she bred shelties and goldens (not together), and won a fair number of hunting competitions back in the day.  I myself work with rescued pit bulls (which range from some of the easiest dogs to some of the hardest).  The dog I have right now is one of the hardest I’ve had to live with, as he needs 3-5 hours of exercise a day to stay calm.  I agree that learning a dog’s body language can result in a pretty good flow of communication, but watching the videos of “talking” dogs is a whole different level.

 
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02 January 2021 17:38
 

That’s nice of you to take the time to work with pit bull rescues. 3 to 5 hours of exercise to keep a pit bull calm sounds exhausting. I admire your dedication.

 
 
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03 January 2021 13:13
 
weird buffalo - 29 December 2020 06:06 PM

The owner is working with academics to provide them with documentation and experimentation to help understand what is going on inside Bunny’s brain . . . 

The limitations of the dog are pretty obvious . . .

It could be the biggest window we’ve ever had into the internal life of another species though.

Wiki quote:

“They possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in us. And the part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is about 40 times greater than ours.

Is there a superhero out there with a sense of smell 40 times greater than ours?  What would his or her name be?  Imagine a ‘detective’ with that kind of power!

pheromone  noun ZOOLOGY

“a chemical substance produced and released into the environment by an animal, especially a mammal or an insect, affecting the behavior or physiology of others of its species.”

A Pitbull releasing pheremones to convince the Shih Tzu next door that he’s a pussy cat?

[ Edited: 03 January 2021 13:17 by unsmoked]