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Many Animals Know How to Self-Medicate

As more is learned about animal intelligence, it is not understood how much of their behavior is learned or inherited in as yet unknown mechanism. Many of the intelligent behaviors are surprising and have been summarized in a series of posts. Please refer to posts on birds, lizards, ants, termites, and elephants. Perhaps,…

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Microbes in Animals Confound Research

While many scientists draw conclusions from research that they think is incontrovertible, in fact there are many inherent problems with current research and its conclusions. A previous post described the many issues involved in attempts to understand the brain.  Another described problems with inferring how brain regions…

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Convergent Evolution of Intelligence

Advanced intelligence has evolved in vastly different types of creatures. Intelligence occurred independently even though these creatures started as small multi cellular organisms and diverged in evolution 500 million years ago. They each used different building blocks, genetic clusters, molecular cascades and signaling….

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The Uniquely Talented and Intelligent Octopus

The octopus has advanced intelligence despite 500 million years of separate evolution from mammals, birds, insects and reptiles. Octopus ancestors are, perhaps, the first intelligent beings on Earth. Recent research is beginning to describe their very unusual talents, behavior and brain, as well as their unique genetic…

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Only Crows and Humans Can Do It

Many birds have remarkable abilities, far greater than has been considered possible with their small brains. Songbirds are a large category of thousands of species of birds that have advanced vocal learning ability, similar to humans. (See post on vocal learning similarities between humans and songbirds). Some of these…

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Remarkable Fish Intelligence

Recent research shows that fish are remarkably intelligent and have complex inner lives. This should not really be surprising since animals with very small brains that are much different than humans are now known to have advanced social and cognitive capacities—see posts on birds, lizards, bees, ants and termites. The…

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Dr. Lieff’s 10 Most Intelligent Animals for Discover Channel

Discover Channel asked Dr. Lieff to briefly describe the most intelligent animals. The list was honed down to 10 for a presentation on Discover Channel News. To see the Slide Show CLICK HERE For more detailed information about each of the animals from Searching for the Mind posts, please see the links below….

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Termite Intelligence Update

Termites are the oldest social animals, starting elaborate societies 200 million years ago—50 million years before ants and bees. They began agriculture with fungus farming before ants. Like ants and bees (described in previous posts Remarkable Bee Brain and Ant Intelligence Update), termites exhibit remarkable…

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Ant Intelligence Update

Because of the remarkable intelligence of insects with tiny brains, such as bees, ants and termites, many ascribe their capabilities to the hive or colony. In fact, there is increasing evidence that individual ants, bees, and termites are very intelligent, which allows for intelligent actions of the colony. In the case of…

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Vocal Learning Similarities in Songbirds and Humans

As more animals are found to have advanced cognitive ability, it is clear that the human brain is not the model for all advanced abilities. There are animals that have greater capacities; and those with similar capacities can use very different brain structures. Intelligence evolved a number of different ways. Last week 28…

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Elephant Culture

How can we not appreciate the intelligence, empathy, and wisdom of elephants? How can we allow them to be murdered for their ivory? For generations, those who have known elephants have witnessed their very complex society with highly evolved social capabilities and wise, loving behavior. Legends for a thousand years…

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Dog Brain Center Processes Emotions of Human Voice

Dogs and humans have lived together for up to 30,000 years and know each other very well. Their vocalizations are, therefore, familiar to each other. They are also, both familiar with the same sounds in their shared environment. Dogs know when we are upset and when we are ready to play. It is, therefore, not completely…

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Guest Post On Why Animals Are Smarter Than You Think

A guest post for MindBodyGreen: Why Animals Are Smarter Than You Think (And Why You Should Care)  To read the article click here  “It is time for us to understand that animals, even the very small ones, are conscious. They have feelings, they show empathy, and they display intelligence in ways that humans…

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Guest Blog For MindBodyGreen – Choices That Can Change Your Life in Great Ways

I was asked to write a guest blog for the website MindBodyGreen. They requested that from all of the research on the Searching For The Mind Website, what are the things that I wish everyone would know about simple actions that can be taken to make life better.   This article was just posted. To read it click…

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Mirror Neurons

When animals perform an action in pursuit of a goal, specific brain regions appear to be activated. When animals observe that action, different brain regions are used. Twenty years ago a type of neuron was observed in the macaque monkey that appeared to respond in both of these situations. Later, these were shown in…

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Q and A about the Mind of Animals

Picture from Alex Wild www.alexanderwild.com “By appreciating the intelligence of animals that are dependent upon us, humans would become more compassionate.”  “We can realize that we don’t have all the answers, and that the earth needs many more species than just humans. We must protect the other species from our…

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Animal Intelligence Update 2013

Neuroscience assumes that the human brain is the standard to which all animals’ brains should be compared. But, many animals show unique talents, and very advanced intelligence and social behavior. Their intelligence is quite different from humans and in some ways is superior. Many avenues of research show unique animal…

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Animal Cultures

All behavioral studies performed while animals are in captivity are suspect. Even flies, and other insects, behave differently in experimental conditions rather than a natural habitat. But, some animals are extremely difficult to study in the wild, especially if they travel much faster than we do, such as birds, or can…

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Jon Lieff YouTube Channel

The new Jon Lieff YouTube channel was started with a series of questions and answers from a Skype interview by Evita Ochel on EBTV. To view the channel and watch any one of the videos please click here. The eleven videos are on the following topics: How does meditation change the brain What is the relationship…

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Psychology Today Post written by Marc Bekoff and me – The Birds and the Bees and Their Brains: Size Doesn’t Matter

A new post was written by Marc Bekoff and me for Psychology Today about unique animal brain structures that could help explain why animals are so intelligent with such small brains. It is posted today in the blog Animal Emotions by Marc Bekoff. To read the article  Click…

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Music Emotion and Evolution

For many, music exists to express emotions. Music stimulates both psychological mood and physiological changes including heart rate and breathing. Music can help anxiety. It drives the body with loud, fast music making people lively and promoting dance. Slow, soft music can make people calm or sad. Are these inherent…

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Crabs Feel Pain

Source: SARBAJIT SARBAJNA Pain can’t be measured. Experience can’t be measured. Many animals obviously experience pain. If crabs feel pain what does that say about other creatures’ experiences?   Do animals need a particular set of nerves or brain structures to feel pain? Many animals show surprising levels…

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The Remarkable Bee Brain

Bees use abstract thought and symbolic language. Bees routinely solve the advanced mathematical problem of the travelling salesman. Bees mix medications for their hive and know when a fungus is dangerous. Bees distinguish landscapes scenes, types of flowers, shapes and patterns. Bees forage for…

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Animals and Microbes: Who Is Influencing Who?

Do we choose our microbes by our behavior? Or do the microbes choose and manipulate us by their behavior? Our own eukaryote cells are the result of two microbes creating a working relationship (our cell and mitochondria). There is increasing evidence that these symbioses could be vital at every step of evolution. This…

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Lizards Aren’t Supposed To Be This Smart

The four recently hatched iguanas formed a group and a leader emerged. When walking in single file the leader looks back to check if everyone is there and okay. Now, after several months, they are going to leave the nesting island and swim back to their homeland. The leader swims out first. When all of the others didn’t…

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Death of a Bird: Mourning and Advanced Cognition in Birds

Flying overhead the scrub jay sees a comrade is dead. The observant bird continues to fly, but is now agitated and calling loudly enough for birds to hear far away. Others now call out and spread the word. The flock of jaybirds all come to sit near the dead bird, still making a very loud chaotic noise. The large…

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Wise Animals: Animal Studies Need to Be In Natural Settings, Not Lab

Previous posts discussed the increased scientific awareness of advanced cognitive abilities in animals both large and small, on land and in water.  Although animals other than humans have many intelligent qualities, can they really think, and do they have a complex inner life? Currently, it is not possible to study the…

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Bee Doctors, Medicating the Hive against Dangerous Disease

A previous post discussed how bees can behave intelligently.  Their complex waggle language communicates accurate directions, relative to their hives and the angle of the sun as well as the quality of flowers.  In finding the shortest and most efficient paths between flowers, bees also solve the complex mathematical…

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Termites, Master Engineers, Skyscraper Mounds, Thermoregulation, Farming, and Insect Intelligence

Previous blogs have described some of the more intelligent abilities of bees and ants. We have seen that bees can solve difficult mathematical problems—for instance, when sizing up the most efficient route to a flower.  Fire ants are able to demonstrate a most remarkable raft structure as well as individual leadership….

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Ants, Individual and Colony, Superorganism, Leadership, and Fire Ants

Like bees, ants are often considered to be mindless cogs in a machine—the hive, or colony—that somehow possesses its own intelligence.  This kind of intelligent society of insects has been called a “superorganism;” the internet would probably also qualify for this. Mathematical scientists have looked for…

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Rat Empathy and Brain Evolution

Current theories of the brain’s evolution attempt to correlate mental ability with the evolutionary age and sophistication of its structures. The older and more primitive the structure, the less emotional and cognitive abilities should be present. However, recent studies are shaking the brain-behavioral evolutionary…

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Bee intelligence, Bee waggle democracy, Bee Individuals and More

Certain large-brained animals – whales, dolphins, and chimpanzees, for example—as well as smaller brained crows have shown themselves to possess unusual intelligence with abilities to solve complex problems and use tools.  But what about insects?  Could these tiny-brained creatures also possess a similar kind of…

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Brains at Sea, Whale Cooperation & Culture, Dolphin Social Relations with Fishermen, Octopi & Fish Using Tools

Octopus Brains at Sea

The killer whale pokes his head up onto the floating ice to see the sleeping seal.  Other whales come over to investigate the find.  The first whale then gathers three other whales and they all line up in a row with their tails towards the seal on the ice, and their heads pointing away. All four then start to beat their…

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Animal Brains, Large and Small, Multiple Intelligences

The current theory of multiple intelligences refers to the different ways that humans perceive the world based upon their differing talents.  This theory suggests that it helps to use specific educational approaches for different types of people. Think how much more this is true in the world of animals, where each has a…

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