18 Comparative Cognition

Behavioral Neuroscience

  1. Edward A. Wasserman PhD,
  2. Leyre Castro PhD

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop203018

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Wasserman, E. A. and Castro, L. 2012. Comparative Cognition. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 3:18.

Author Information

  1. University of Iowa, Department of Psychology, Iowa City, Iowa, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Although its origins can be traced to philosophical speculations of the 16th and 17th centuries, for the past 100 years research in comparative cognition has used the methods of natural science to discover the extent to which our mental functions are similar to those of other animals. Are animals intelligentWhat do we know about animals' cognitive capacitiesWhat forms and aspects of cognition have been studiedWhat methods have been used in this research realmWhat findings have emergedIn this chapter, we will see how animals respond to the passage of time, how they remember the past, how they respond effectively in the present, and how they plan for the future. We will also learn that animals can master abstract and numerical concepts, and even exhibit signs of analogical reasoning as well as many of the precursors to human symbolic language. We will also consider the possibility that animals may monitor their current state of knowledge to control their own behavior in an adaptive way. This sampling of topics, methods, and findings should provide a good introduction to the current state of the science of comparative cognition.


  • Comparative psychology;
  • animal cognition;
  • abstract conceptualization