Researchers at a Hungarian university have found that dogs are endowed with a complex type of memory that was only thought to be present in humans and great apes.
The memory of past experiences and events is important in humans, because it determines their thinking and conditions their future reactions . Have you ever wondered if your dog can remember what you did together ? If our quadrupedal friends had this ability, it would mean that they would be endowed with a well-defined type of memory called “ episodic memory ”. However, the latter is associated with self-awareness , which some believe is absent in most animals.
It was long believed that this episodic memory only existed in primates , in other words, us humans and apes. Scientists then demonstrated that a fairly similar memory exists in other species, including birds such as hummingbirds and bush jays , as well as rats . These animals must memorize complex sequences of information essential for their survival . The scrub jay, for example, is able to remember what food it hid, where it hid it, and who was there when it did.
To see if dogs can remember actions unrelated to their survival or performed by other individuals , a team of researchers at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest , Hungary, subjected 17 canids to a series of tests, reports the journal Science Mag .
The owners of these dogs first taught them to imitate their actions , such as jumping . This exercise is called “ do like me ”. Animals easily integrated it and, when their owners jumped in front of their eyes, they did the same . However, that was not enough to prove that they have episodic memory, according to Claudia Fugazza , ethologist and lead author of the study. “ You had to test them when they weren’t expecting it, ” she said.
Dogs do have an episodic memory, or a form that closely resembles it
The dogs succeeded 33 times out of 35 ! We could conclude that our 4-legged friends have something that we could at least compare to episodic memory . However, the longer the time interval increases, the more difficult it is for dogs to remember and reproduce the action. The same goes for episodic memory in humans.
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Proof that canine memory is much more complex than we think