Skip to content Rosati, A. Research over the past ten years has revealed that at least some primates have some capability to assess the psychological states of others—while simultaneously showing striking differences between the social-cognitive capacities of humans and other primates. Here we address two aspects of primate social cognition—understanding of intentional, goal-directed action, and understanding perceptions, knowledge, and beliefs—focusing on newest comparative research since the last major reviews were written on the topic over a decade ago.
We first review evidence suggesting that diverse species of primates understand the actions of others in terms of goals and intentions, and furthermore can reason about some, but probably not all, kinds of psychological states. Measuring reward assessment in a semi-naturalistic context: The effects of selective amygdala, orbital frontal or hippocampal lesions Christopher J.
Machado , Jocelyne Bachevalier. The effects of selective amygdala, orbital frontal cortex or hippocampal formation lesions on reward assessment in nonhuman primates. Christopher J. Appetitive behavior: impact of amygdala-dependent mechanisms of emotional learning. Barry J. Everitt , Rudolf N. Cardinal , John A. Parkinson , T W Robbins.
The amygdala and reward Mark G. Baxter , Elisabeth A.
Central circuits mediating patterned autonomic activity during active vs. Emotion circuits in the brain. Joseph E. In addition, the electronics required for amplifying neural signals and for transmitting them over a certain distance have enabled neuroscientists to record from behaving animals  performing activities in naturalistic environments.
Emerging technologies can complement neuroethology, augmenting the feasibility of this valuable perspective of natural neurophysiology. Another challenge, and perhaps part of the beauty of neuroethology, is experimental design. The value of neuroethological criteria speak to the reliability of these experiments, because these discoveries represent behavior in the environments in which they evolved.
Neuroethologists foresee future advancements through using new technologies and techniques, such as computational neuroscience, neuroendocrinology, and molecular genetics that mimic natural environments. In , Akira Watanabe and Kimihisa Takeda discovered the behavior of the jamming avoidance response in the knifefish Eigenmannia sp.
In collaboration with T. Bullock and colleagues, the behavior was further developed. Finally, the work of W. Heiligenberg expanded it into a full neuroethology study by examining the series of neural connections that led to the behavior. Eigenmannia is a weakly electric fish that can generate electric discharges through electrocytes in its tail.
Furthermore, it has the ability to electrolocate by analyzing the perturbations in its electric field. If the neighbor's frequency is higher than the fish's discharge frequency, the fish will lower its frequency, and vice versa. The sign of the frequency difference is determined by analyzing the "beat" pattern of the incoming interference which consists of the combination of the two fish's discharge patterns. Neuroethologists performed several experiments under Eigenmannia ' s natural conditions to study how it determined the sign of the frequency difference.
They manipulated the fish's discharge by injecting it with curare which prevented its natural electric organ from discharging. Then, an electrode was placed in its mouth and another was placed at the tip of its tail. Likewise, the neighboring fish's electric field was mimicked using another set of electrodes. This experiment allowed neuroethologists to manipulate different discharge frequencies and observe the fish's behavior.
From the results, they were able to conclude that the electric field frequency, rather than an internal frequency measure, was used as a reference.
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This experiment is significant in that not only does it reveal a crucial neural mechanism underlying the behavior but also demonstrates the value neuroethologists place on studying animals in their natural habitats. He began by observing the natural prey-catching behavior of the common toad Bufo bufo and concluded that the animal followed a sequence that consisted of stalking, binocular fixation, snapping, swallowing and mouth-wiping. However, initially, the toad's actions were dependent on specific features of the sensory stimulus: whether it demonstrated worm or anti-worm configurations.
It was observed that the worm configuration, which signaled prey, was initiated by movement along the object's long axis, whereas anti-worm configuration, which signaled predator, was due to movement along the short axis. Zupanc Ewert and coworkers adopted a variety of methods to study the predator versus prey behavior response. They conducted recording experiments where they inserted electrodes into the brain, while the toad was presented with worm or anti-worm stimuli. This technique was repeated at different levels of the visual system and also allowed feature detectors to be identified.
In focus was the discovery of prey-selective neurons in the optic tectum, whose axons could be traced towards the snapping pattern generating cells in the hypoglossal nucleus. The discharge patterns of prey-selective tectal neurons in response to prey objects — in freely moving toads — "predicted" prey-catching reactions such as snapping. Another approach, called stimulation experiment, was carried out in freely moving toads. Focal electrical stimuli were applied to different regions of the brain, and the toad's response was observed.
When the thalamic-pretectal region was stimulated, the toad exhibited escape responses, but when the tectum was stimulated in an area close to prey-selective neurons, the toad engaged in prey catching behavior Carew These and other experiments suggest that prey selectivity results from pretecto-tectal influences. Ewert and coworkers showed in toads that there are stimulus-response mediating pathways that translate perception of visual sign stimuli into action adequate behavioral responses. In addition there are modulatory loops that initiate, modify or specify this mediation Ewert Regarding the latter, for example, the telencephalic caudal ventral striatum is involved in a loop gating the stimulus-response mediation in a manner of directed attention.
Computational neuroethology CN  or CNE  is concerned with the computer modelling of the neural mechanisms underlying animal behaviors. Computational neuroethology was first argued for in depth by Randall Beer  and by Dave Cliff  both of whom acknowledged the strong influence of Michael Arbib 's Rana Computatrix computational model of neural mechanisms for visual guidance in frogs and toads. CNE systems work within a closed-loop environment; that is, they perceive their perhaps artificial environment directly, rather than through human input, as is typical in AI systems.
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Paris-Saclay Institute of Neuroscience - Sensory Neuro-Ethology (ENES Team)
The Behavioral and Brain Sciences. New York. Sunderland Mass. Behavioral Neurobiology an Integrative Approach.
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Oxford University Press. Artificial Minds. MIT Press. Boden Mind as machine. Beer Intelligence as Adaptive Behavior: An experiment in computational neuroethology.