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INTELLIGENT ANIMALS

COMMUNICATORS

B

ateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having human-like emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.” Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Eureka! Extraordinary Animals issue - page 12

B

Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

ateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having human-like emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.” Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”


INTELLIGENT ANIMALS

COMMUNICATORS

B

ateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having human-like emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.” Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Eureka! Extraordinary Animals issue - page 12

Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

B

Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken

Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

ateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having human-like emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.” Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”


INTELLIGENT ANIMALS

Cooperators

B

ateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having human-like emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.” Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Eureka! Extraordinary Animals issue - page 12

Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make

Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make

Bateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having humanlike emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.” Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”


INTELLIGENT ANIMALS

Pro-social behaviour in animals

Eureka! Extraordinary Animals issue - page 12

B

ateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having human-like emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.” Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Bateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having humanlike emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Rats free labmates

With a few liberating swipes of their paws, a group of research rats freed trapped labmates and raised anew the possibility that empathy isn’t unique to humans and a few extra-smart animals, but is widespread in the animal world. Though more studies are needed on the rats’ motivations, it’s at least plausible they demonstrated “empathically motivated prosocial behavior.” People would generally call that helpfulness, or even kindness. In a study published Dec. 7 in Science, Mason and University of Chicago psychologists Jean Decety and Inbal BenAmi Bartal describe their rat empathy-testing apparatus: An enclosure into which pairs of rats were placed, with one roaming free and the other restrained inside a plastic tube. It could only be opened from the outside, which is exactly what the free rats did — again and again and again, seemingly in response to their trapped companions’ distress. The experiment built on research conducted several years ago by geneticist Jeff Mogil at McGill University, where mice were shown capable of “emotional contagion” — a slightly scary-sounding term denoting a tendency to become upset when cagemates were in pain. This might not seem surprising, but anecdotes from wild animal observations don’t pass academic scrutiny, and it hadn’t before been shown in captive mice. It hinted

at unexpectedly sophisticated cognition: Mice were supposed to feel pain, but not each other’s. At the time, ethologist Frans de Waal of Emory University, whose work has helped redefine what’s known scientifically about thoughts and feelings in chimpanzees and dolphins and elephants, said Mogil’s experiment “justifies speaking of ‘empathy’” — the ability to both put oneself in the shoes, or paws, of another, and to become emotionally involved in their situation. Sure, mice almost certainly weren’t so empathic as humans, but maybe they had the seeds of it. Maybe empathy wasn’t the result of some highpowered cognitive process, as most biologists and psychologists preferred to think, but a relatively simple phenomenon. Once rats learned to free their trapped and agitated partners, they did so almost immediately in trial after trial. The behavior was clearly deliberate. When the restrainer was empty, rats ignored it. When stuffed rats were restrained, the rats ignored them. “It’s compelling evidence that it’s the distress of the trapped cagemate motivating this helping behavior,” said Mason. “It is a huge leap up to use emotional contagion to actually do something, to actually help another individual.” To make sure the rats weren’t responding to some immediate social reward — a rat version

“Rodents are not just affected by the emotions of others, but that empathy motivates altruism.” - Frans de Waal

of a thank-you hug — the researchers tweaked the apparatus so that trapped rats were released into a separate cage. Again, the rats freed each other. When given the opportunity to eat chocolate treats first, rats were as likely to release their companions first, and even shared the chocolate with them. According to de Waal, the results “show for the first time that rodents are not just affected by the emotions of others, but that empathy motivates altruism.” He believes the rats responded to an instinctive urge to make their compatriots feel better, just as humans and chimpanzees and some cetaceans do. However, the researchers stopped short of ascribing the results to a conclusive display of empathy. It’s possible the rats were less concerned with alleviating the suffering of brethren than soothing their own upset feelings. Perhaps the trapped rats’ distress


INTELLIGENT ANIMALS

Pro-social behaviour in animals

Eureka! Extraordinary Animals issue - page 12

B

ateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having human-like emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.” Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Bateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having humanlike emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Rats free labmates

With a few liberating swipes of their paws, a group of research rats freed trapped labmates and raised anew the possibility that empathy isn’t unique to humans and a few extra-smart animals, but is widespread in the animal world. Though more studies are needed on the rats’ motivations, it’s at least plausible they demonstrated “empathically motivated prosocial behavior.” People would generally call that helpfulness, or even kindness. In a study published Dec. 7 in Science, Mason and University of Chicago psychologists Jean Decety and Inbal BenAmi Bartal describe their rat empathy-testing apparatus: An enclosure into which pairs of rats were placed, with one roaming free and the other restrained inside a plastic tube. It could only be opened from the outside, which is exactly what the free rats did — again and again and again, seemingly in response to their trapped companions’ distress. The experiment built on research conducted several years ago by geneticist Jeff Mogil at McGill University, where mice were shown capable of “emotional contagion” — a slightly scary-sounding term denoting a tendency to become upset when cagemates were in pain. This might not seem surprising, but anecdotes from wild animal observations don’t pass academic scrutiny, and it hadn’t before been shown in captive mice. It hinted

“Rodents are not just affected by the emotions of others, but that empathy motivates altruism.”

Rats also share basic neurological features, such as a highly developed limbic system and various hormones and neurotransmitters, with all other mammals.

- Frans de Waal at unexpectedly sophisticated cognition: Mice were supposed to feel pain, but not each other’s. At the time, ethologist Frans de Waal of Emory University, whose work has helped redefine what’s known scientifically about thoughts and feelings in chimpanzees and dolphins and elephants, said Mogil’s experiment “justifies speaking of ‘empathy’” — the ability to both put oneself in the shoes, or paws, of another, and to become emotionally involved in their situation. Sure, mice almost certainly weren’t so empathic as humans, but maybe they had the seeds of it. Maybe empathy wasn’t the result of some highpowered cognitive process, as most biologists and psychologists preferred to think, but a relatively simple phenomenon. Once rats learned to free their trapped and agitated partners, they did so almost immediately in trial after trial. The behavior was clearly deliberate. When the restrainer was empty, rats ignored it. When stuffed rats were restrained, the rats ignored them. “It’s compelling evidence that it’s the distress of the trapped cagemate motivating this helping behavior,” said Mason. “It is a huge leap up to use emotional contagion to actually do something, to actually help another individual.” To make sure the rats weren’t responding to some immediate social reward — a rat version of a thank-you hug — the researchers tweaked the apparatus so that trapped rats were released

into a separate cage. Again, the rats freed each other. When given the opportunity to eat chocolate treats first, rats were as likely to release their companions first, and even shared the chocolate with them. According to de Waal, the results “show for the first time that rodents are not just affected by the emotions of others, but that empathy motivates altruism.” He believes the rats responded to an instinctive urge to make their compatriots feel better, just as humans and chimpanzees and some cetaceans do. However, the researchers stopped short of ascribing the results to a conclusive display of empathy. It’s possible the rats were less concerned with alleviating the suffering of brethren than soothing their own upset feelings. Perhaps the trapped rats’ distress calls were simply loud and annoying, and the


INTELLIGENT ANIMALS

Dolphin linguistics

B

Elephants co-operate

ateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having human-like emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.” Eureka! Extraordinary Animals issue - page 12

Bateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having humanlike emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

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Elephants co-operate

ateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having human-like emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Dolphin linguistics

Bateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having humanlike emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”


INTELLIGENT ANIMALS

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Elephants co-operate ateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having human-like emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Eureka! Extraordinary Animals issue - page 12

Bateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having humanlike emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The methodology is sound,” said Lori Marino, an Emory University evolutionary neurobiologist who was not involved in the study. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they are tapping into bee emotions. After all, every animal has to have emotions in order to learn and to make decisions. And we already know from many other studies that bees are really cognitively sophisticated.”

Dolphin linguistics Bateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having humanlike emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The

Bateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having humanlike emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The

Bateson and Wright tested their bees with a type of experiment designed to show whether animals are, like humans, capable of experiencing cognitive states in which ambiguous information is interpreted in negative fashion. “Invertebrates like bees aren’t typically thought of as having humanlike emotions,” said Bateson, yet honeybees and vertebrates share many neurological traits. “Way, way back, we share a common ancestor. The basic physiology of the brain has been retained over evolutionary time. There are basic similarities.” Until now, though, they hadn’t been tested. Bateson and Wright trained their honeybees to associate one scent with a sugary reward and another scent with bitterness. Then they shook half their beehives, mimicking a predator attack. Afterwards, shaken bees still responded to the sugary scent, but were more reluctant than their unshaken brethren to investigate the in-between smell. “The


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