Do animals have imagination?

Imagination, that ability that allows us to create worlds in our minds, is not limited to humans. Recent studies suggest that animals do too They can It harbors forms of imagination And they have the ability to do so Move around mentally Self-experiencing virtual worlds opens doors to new forms of learning in a human-like way.

The importance of studying imagination in animals

from Evolutionary perspectiveThe study of imagination in animals It provides us with very valuable information about the origin and development of this cognitive ability. By studying different species we can trace the evolutionary path of imagination and its importance in terms of adaptation in different ecological settings.

How to Imagine Animals, among other things, is concerned with comparative psychology, a branch of science that studies similarities and differences in behavior. Between different species in processes such as intelligence, memory and consciousnessWith its practical applications. For example, in training animals, improving their welfare and planning species conservation strategies by better understanding their behaviour.

Imagination: Episodic memory and planning

he Study of imagination It can be performed in animals in different ways, Such as memory capacity analysis. More specifically, by analyzing so-called episodic and schematic memory.

We say we have episodic memory when we are able to remember places, moments, details, and emotions. That is, when we remember episodes from our lives. This memory a Basic property from imagination, Because it requires a combination of memories, attention capacity, and emotional control. It is a prerequisite for learning and allows us, among other things, to adapt our behavior according to what is happening around us, to plan and pretend that something is happening.

See also  The Louvre asks Le Pen to remove his election video with images from the museum

Thus, by studying episodic memory, we can learn about its neural mechanisms That underlies fiction and collects data on evolutionary origins Why we remember, how we remember, and therefore, how we act.

The European Union is developing an alternative to analyzing food safety without animal testing

The blue jay remembers where it hides food

It showed different types of animals Have episodic memory. Rats, magpies, squid, chimpanzees, orangutans, crows, macaques, etc., Are able to remember specific events, including what, where, and when they occurred.

Distinctive example It’s the blue jay (aphelocoma coerulescens). It has been discovered that this bird is able to remember the food it stored and where and when it was stored. This way you can retrieve and consume the stored food at a later time, even hours or days later.

In the aquatic environment, research on zebrafish and other ornamental fish species, such as labyrinths (or anpantids), has indicated that they can Remember the location of shelters or food sources over timeWhich suggests a basic form of episodic memory. In addition, studies on octopuses have revealed their ability to remember how to solve tasks in exchange for rewards.

Ability to predict and plan future events It could be a major evolutionary advantage of episodic memory. In this sense, experiments conducted on bonobos, chimpanzees and orangutans have shown that they are able to choose a tool to solve a problem, Even if the reward is not in sight, they carry it with them for up to 14 hours. This means a level of perception beyond immediate motivation, indicating insight and a form of perception of time and the future.

See also  Work and health, big problems

Where does imagination live?

he Hippocampus It is one of the most studied areas of the brain Regarding memory and spatial orientation. Thus, it has been shown that if the hippocampus is damaged, memory for life experiences (episodic memory) is lost, while its integrity is crucial for the formation and recovery of memories.

The importance of studying the hippocampus in animals lies in its relevance to understanding the changes characteristic of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease And other neurodegenerative conditions, since the hippocampus They are usually affected in the early stages of these diseasesThis leads to early symptoms of memory loss and confusion that are very devastating to patients and their families.

The development of the hippocampus, in terms of size and complexity, when comparing animal species, It is closely related to the development of imagination. Although animals cannot communicate their subjective experiences like humans, behaviors that suggest they remember lived experiences indicate their connection to this area of ​​the brain.

Mice can imagine

It has just been published in the magazine SciencesThis is a very innovative study that shows results indicating that mice, like humans, They have the ability to “visualize” or navigate mentally Places they have visited before.

This result is the result of an experiment Which combined virtual reality and real-time brain-machine interfaceWhich opens new horizons about the cognitive abilities of rodents, especially with regard to the hippocampus, which is the brain region we mentioned and which, in addition to memory, is associated with spatial navigation.

See also  Nicolas Maduro, candidate of the United Socialist Party for the presidential elections • Workers

During the experiment, mice were trained to navigate in a virtual environment. First they were allowed to physically move through the environment, So they can create a map of the space in their hippocampus. Later, using a brain-machine interface, mice were shown to be able to activate representations in their hippocampus of specific locations in the environment, but this time without physical movement.

Voluntary activation of their spatial memory allowed them to navigate toward specific targets in space or move objects toward these targets. These results suggest that mice, and perhaps other animals, They have a more complex cognitive ability than previously understoodcomes close to human abilities of imagination and mental time travel.

“I have always believed, and I still believe, that imagination and imagination are very important, Because they are an integral part of the reality of our lives“, He said Anna Maria Mattotti. And those of animals too.

Francisco Jose Esteban Ruizfull professor of cell biology, Jain University And Sergio Iglesias BarrowEmeritus Professor in the Department of Psychology. Jain University

This article was originally published on Conversation. Read the creative.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *