Study: Dogs Can Imitate Human Actions And Store Them In Memory
July 16, 2013 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
BUDAPEST, Hungary (UPI) — Dogs can learn and replay actions taught by humans after a short delay, European scientists say, evidence of dogs’ ability to both encode and recall actions.
Claudia Fugazza and Adam Miklosi of Eotvos Lorand University in Hungary said they set out to determine if dogs possess a cognitive ability knows as deferred imitation, the ability to perform a task after a delay between being shown the task and being asked to perform it.
In a study published the journal Animal Cognition, they reported dogs were able to imitate human actions after delays ranging from 40 seconds to 10 minutes, during which time the dogs were distracted by being encouraged to take part in other activities.
Dogs are able to reproduce familiar actions and novel actions after different delays, they said; familiar actions after intervals as long as 10 minutes, novel tasks after a delay of 1 minute.
Domestic dogs are known to rely human communication cues, the researchers said, learning by observing humans.
Living in human social groups may have favored their ability to learn from humans, they said.
“The ability to encode and recall an action after a delay implies that the dogs have a mental representation of the human demonstration,” the researchers wrote. “This would be so-called ‘declarative memory,’ which refers to memories which can be consciously recalled, such as facts or knowledge.”