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Where is the evidence for general intelligence in nonhuman animals?

  • Ludwig Huber (a1)


This commentary contrasts evolutionary plausibility with empirical evidence and cognitive continuity with radiation and convergent evolution. So far, neither within-species nor between-species comparisons on the basis of rigorous experimental and species-appropriate tests substantiate the claims made in the target article. Caution is advisable on meta-analytical comparisons that primarily rely on publication frequencies and overgeneralizations (from murids and primates to other nonhuman animals).



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Anderson, B. (1993) Evidence from the rat for a general factor that underlies cognitive performance and that relates to brain size: Intelligence? Neuroscience Letters 153(1):98102.
Aust, U., Range, F., Steurer, M. & Huber, L. (2008) Inferential reasoning by exclusion in pigeons, dogs, and humans. Animal Cognition 11:587–97.
Emery, N. J. & Clayton, N. S. (2004) The mentality of crows: Convergent evolution of intelligence in corvids and apes. Science 306(5703):1903–907.
Emery, N. J. & Clayton, N. S. (2009) Tool use and physical cognition in birds and mammals. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 19(1):2733.
Fitch, W. T., Huber, L. & Bugnyar, T. (2010) Social cognition and the evolution of language: Constructing cognitive phylogenies. Neuron 65(6):795814.
Gottfredson, L. S. (1997) Mainstream science on intelligence: An editorial with 52 signatories, history, and bibliography. Intelligence 24:1323.
Gruber, T., Clay, Z. & Zuberbuhler, K. (2010) A comparison of bonobo and chimpanzee tool use: Evidence for a female bias in the Pan lineage. Animal Behaviour 80:1023–33.
Güntürkün, O. & Bugnyar, T. (2016) Cognition without cortex. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 20(4):291303.
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Herrmann, E. & Call, J. (2012) Are there geniuses among the apes? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 367:2753–61.
Herrmann, E., Hare, B., Call, J. & Tomasello, M. (2010a) Differences in the cognitive skills of bonobos and chimpanzees. PLoS One 5(8):e12438.
Hodos, W. & Campbell, C. B. G. (1969) Scala naturae: Why there is no theory in comparative psychology. Psychological Review 76(4):337–50.
Huber, L. (2009) Degrees of rationality in human and non-human animals. In: Rational Animals, Irrational Humans, ed. Watanabe, S., Blaisdell, A. P., Huber, L. & Young, A., pp. 321. Keio University Press.
Locurto, C., Benoit, A., Crowley, C. & Miele, A. R. (2006) The structure of individual differences in batteries of rapid acquisition tasks in mice. Journal of Comparative Psychology 120:378–88.
Mendes, N. & Huber, L. (2004) Object permanence in common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). Journal of Comparative Psychology 118(1):103–12.
O'Hara, M., Auersperg, A. M. I., Bugnyar, T. & Huber, L. (2015) Inference by exclusion in Goffin cockatoos (Cacatua goffini). PLoS One 10(8):e0134894.
O'Hara, M., Schwing, R., Federspiel, I., Gajdon, G. K. & Huber, L. (2016) Reasoning by exclusion in the kea (Nestor notabilis). Animal Cognition 19(5):965–75.
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Shettleworth, S. J. (2010a) Clever animals and killjoy explanations in comparative psychology. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 14(11):477–81.
Teschke, I., Cartmill, E. A., Stankewitz, S. & Tebbich, S. (2011) Sometimes tool use is not the key: No evidence for cognitive adaptive specializations in tool-using woodpecker finches. Animal Behaviour 82(5):945–56.
Teschke, I., Wascher, C. A., Scriba, M. F., von Bayern, A. M., Huml, V., Siemers, B. & Tebbich, S. (2013) Did tool-use evolve with enhanced physical cognitive abilities? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 368(1630):20120418.
Voelkl, B. & Huber, L. (2000) True imitation in marmosets. Animal Behaviour 60(2):195202.
Voelkl, B. & Huber, L. (2007) Imitation as faithful copying of a novel technique in marmoset monkeys. PLoS One 2(7):e611.
Wass, C., Denman-Brice, A., Light, K. R., Kolata, S., Smith, A. M. & Matzel, L. D. (2012) Covariation of learning and “reasoning” abilities in mice: Evolutionary conservation of the operations of intelligence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes 38(2):109–24.
Wechsler, D., Coalson, D. L. & Raiford, S. E. (2008) WAIS-IV: Wechsler adult intelligence scale. Pearson.
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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
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