Why some dogs are better at problem-solving decoded

Why some dogs are better at problem-solving decoded

 Playing with objects may help dogs learn about their environment, similar to how it helps human infants, say scientists who have found that inhibitory control may affect physical problem solving in pet dogs.

Dogs' inhibitory control, or the ability to inhibit or regulate attentional or emotional responses, may play a role in their individual differences in physical problem-solving task performance, researchers said.

Researchers from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna studied the effects of pet dogs' experiences interacting with the physical environment and their individual differences in inhibitory control on their physical problem-solving ability.

As many as 40 pet Border Collie dogs were assigned to three different conditions, and tested in an intensive series of inhibitory control tasks, such as wait-for-treat, and cognitive measures, such as size constancy over a period of 18 months.

Researchers found that differences in previous object-related experiences do not explain variability in performance in problem solving tasks.

Depending on the cognitive task, inhibitory control had a positive or a negative effect on performance and turned out to be the best predictors of individual performance in the different tasks.

According to researchers, dogs likely do not transfer knowledge about physical rules from one physical problem-solving task to another, but rather approach each task as a novel problem.

In addition, individual performance in these tasks may be influenced by the subject's level of inhibitory control.

Researchers suggest that studying the interplay between inhibitory control and problem-solving performance may make an important contribution to our understanding of individual and species differences in physical problem-solving performance.
The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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