Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Wanting ahead -- Birds plan for future desires

For a long time, it had been argued that only humans can draw on past experiences to plan for the future, whereas animals were considered “stuck in time.” However, it has become clear that some animals can indeed plan for future needs. Surprisingly, the most convincing examples of future planning are not derived from our closest relatives, the apes, but from a bird, the Western scrub-jay.

The Western scrub-jay is native to the western United States, and, like squirrels and other food-caching animals, these birds readily store food for the future and recover their caches at a later date. It was already known that the jays can plan ahead and store food in places where they have learned they will be hungry the next morning and where they know the type of food will not be available. But a key issue had remained unresolved—namely, whether the birds can plan ahead in response to a motivation or desire they do not experience in the present. In other words: Can the birds know what they are going to want in the future?

In new research, appearing online on April 26th in the journal Current Biology, published by Cell Press, Sergio Correia, Tony Dickinson, and Nicky Clayton of the University of Cambridge, UK, used a phenomenon called “specific satiety” to address this issue. Like many other animals, when sated of one type of food, Western scrub-jays prefer to eat and store another type of food. Correia and colleagues used this effect to ask whether the birds prefer to store the food they want now or the food they think they will want when they come to recover their caches in the future. At the start of the experiment, the birds stored the food they desired at the time, but the birds switched to storing the food that was valuable at the time of recovery rather than the one they wanted to eat at the time of caching.

These experiments provide the first-ever evidence that animals can plan future actions not only on the basis of what they currently desire, but also on the basis of what they anticipate they will desire in the future. This is another striking example of how animals show features of intelligence that were once thought to be uniquely human.

Erin Doonan | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: AHEAD animals desire

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht ‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Calcium Induces Chronic Lung Infections
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>