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Anim Cogn. 2020 Mar 21. doi: 10.1007/s10071-020-01372-5. [Epub ahead of print]

Investigating information seeking in ravens (Corvus corax).

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Department of Philosophy and Cognitive Science, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
Comparative Cognition Unit, Messerli Research Institute, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Medical University of Vienna, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
Department of Philosophy and Cognitive Science, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.


Measuring the responses of non-human animals to situations of uncertainty is thought to shed light on an animal's metacognitive processes; namely, whether they monitor their own knowledge states. For example, when presented with a foraging task, great apes and macaques selectively seek information about the location of a food item when they have not seen where it was hidden, compared to when they have. We presented this same information seeking task to ravens, in which a food item was hidden in one of three containers, and subjects could either watch where the food was hidden, infer its location through visual or auditory clues, or were given no information. We found that unlike several ape species and macaques, but similar to capuchin monkeys, the ravens looked inside at least one tube on every trial, but typically only once, inside the baited tube, when they had either witnessed it being baited or could visually infer the reward's location. In contrast, subjects looked more often within trials in which they had not witnessed the baiting or were provided with auditory cues about the reward's location. Several potential explanations for these ceiling levels of looking are discussed, including how it may relate to the uncertainty faced by ravens when retrieving food caches.


Apes; Corvid cognition; Information seeking; Metacognition; Uncertainty


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