Skip to main content

Rats and infants as propositional reasoners: A plausible possibility?

  • Leyre Castro (a1) and Edward A. Wasserman (a1)

Mitchell et al. contemplate the possibility of rats being capable of propositional reasoning. We suggest that this is an unlikely and unsubstantiated possibility. Nonhuman animals and human infants do learn about the contingencies in the world; however, such learning seems not to be based on propositional reasoning, but on more elementary associative processes.

Hide All
Beckers T., Miller R. R., De Houwer J. & Urushihara K. (2006) Reasoning rats: Forward blocking in Pavlovian animal conditioning is sensitive to constraints of causal inference. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 135:92102.
Blaisdell A., Sawa K., Leising K. J. & Waldmann M. R. (2006) Causal reasoning in rats. Science 311:1020–22.
Braine M. D. S. (1978) On the relation between the natural logic of reasoning and standard logic. Psychological Review 85:121.
Braine M. D. S. & Rumain B. (1983) Logical reasoning. In:Handbook of child psychology: Cognitive development, vol. 3, ed. Flavell J. H. & Markman E. M.. Wiley.
Christiansen M. H., Dale R. A. C., Ellefson M. R. & Conway C. M. (2002) The role of sequential learning in language evolution: Computational and experimental studies. In:Simulating the evolution of language, ed. Cangelosi A. & Parisi D., pp. 165–88. Springer-Verlag.
Clancy P., Jacobsen T. & Silva M. (1976) The acquisition of conjunction: Across linguistic study. Stanford Papers and Reports on Child Language Development 12:7180.
De Houwer J. & Beckers T. (2003) Secondary task difficulty modulates forward blocking in human contingency learning. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 56B:345–57.
Falmagne R. J. (1975) Overview: Reasoning, representation, process, and related issues. In: Reasoning: Representation and process in children and adults, ed. Falmagne R. J.. Erlbaum.
Goldstone R. L. & Barsalou L. W. (1998) Reuniting perception and conception. Cognition 65:231–62.
Haselgrove M. (under review) Reasoning rats or associative animals? Comment on Beckers, Miller, De Houwer & Urushihara (2006) Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behaviour Processes.
Killeen P. R. (1981) Learning as causal inference. In:Quantitative analyses of behavior, vol. 1: Discriminative properties of reinforcement schedules, ed. Commons M. L. & Nevins J. A., pp. 89112. Ballinger.
Leech R., Mareschal D. & Cooper R. P. (2008) Analogy as relational priming: A developmental and computational perspective on the origins of a complex cognitive skill. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31:357–78.
Rescorla R. A. & Wagner A. R. (1972) A theory of Pavlovian conditioning: Variations in the effectiveness of reinforcement and non-reinforcement. In: Classical conditioning: Current theory and research, vol. 2, ed. Black A. H. & Prokasy W. F., pp. 6499. Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Sobel D. M. & Kirkham N. Z. (2006) Blickets and babies: The development of causal reasoning in toddlers and infants. Developmental Psychology 42:1103–15.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 6 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 67 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.