Research press release


Scientific Reports

Behaviour: Cognitive performance of four-months-old ravens may parallel that of adult great apes

ワタリガラスが現実世界をどれだけ理解しているのか、そして、他のワタリガラスとどのように交流するのかという点を検証するための実験課題によって、ワタリガラスの認知パフォーマンスが生後4か月までに成体の大型類人猿に近づくことが明らかになったと報告する論文が、Scientific Reports に掲載される。

今回、Simone Pikaたちの研究チームは、人工飼育したワタリガラス(計8羽)を対象として生後4か月、8か月、12か月、16か月に一連の試験を実施して、認知技能を検証した。認知技能の検査項目は、空間記憶、対象物の永続性(対象物が見えなくなっても存在し続けていると理解していること)、相対数の理解と足し算、実験実施者とのコミュニケーション能力と実験実施者から学習する能力などだった。




By four months of age the cognitive performance of ravens in experimental tasks testing their understanding of the physical world and how they interact with other ravens may be similar to those of adult great apes, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Simone Pika and colleagues tested the cognitive skills of eight hand-raised ravens at four, eight, 12 and 16 months of age using a series of tests. The skills the authors investigated included spatial memory, object permanence – understanding that an object still exists when it is out of sight – understanding relative numbers and addition, and the ability to communicate with and learn from a human experimenter.

The authors found that the cognitive performance of ravens was similar from four to 16 months of age, suggesting that the speed at which the ravens’ cognitive skills develop is relatively rapid and near-to-complete by four months of age. At this age ravens become more and more independent from their parents and start to discover their ecological and social environments. Although task performance varied between individuals, ravens generally performed best in tasks testing addition and understanding of relative numbers and worst in tasks testing spatial memory.

Comparing the cognitive performance of the ravens with those of 106 chimpanzees and 32 orang-utans who completed similar tasks in a previous study, the authors found that with the exception of spatial memory, the cognitive performance of the ravens was very similar to those of orang-utans and chimpanzees.

The findings provide evidence that ravens, similarly to great apes, may have evolved general, sophisticated cognitive skills. The authors propose that ravens developed these skills in response to living in a constantly changing environment where survival and reproduction are reliant on cooperation and alliances between ravens. However, the authors caution that the performance of the ravens studied may not be representative of the species in general.

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-77060-8


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