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Some researchers have made effective use of a Piagetian methodology, taking tasks which human children are known to master at different stages of development, and investigating which of them can be performed by particular species.Others have been inspired by concerns for animal welfare and the management of domestic species: for example Temple Grandin has harnessed her unique expertise in animal welfare and the ethical treatment of farm livestock to highlight underlying similarities between humans and other animals.An important proponent of this shift in thinking was Donald O.Hebb, who argued that "mind" is simply a name for processes in the head that control complex behavior, and that it is both necessary and possible to infer those processes from behavior.Animal cognition describes the mental capacities of non-human animals and the study of those capacities.



In other words, Morgan believed that anthropomorphic approaches to animal behavior were fallacious, and that people should only consider behaviour as, for example, rational, purposive or affectionate, if there is no other explanation in terms of the behaviours of more primitive life-forms to which we do not attribute those faculties.The remarkable behavior of large-brained animals such as primates and cetacea has claimed special attention, but all sorts of mammals large and small, birds, fish, ants, bees, and others have been brought into the laboratory or observed in carefully controlled field studies.In the laboratory, animals push levers, pull strings, dig for food, swim in water mazes, or respond to images on computer screens in discrimination, attention, memory, and categorization experiments.Of course, research in the two also differs in important respects.

Notably, much research with humans either studies or involves language, and much research with animals is related directly or indirectly to behaviors important to survival in natural settings.

Following are summaries of some of the major areas of research in animal cognition.