Friday, April 4, 2008

Let Photographs of Sleeping Dogs Lie

An article by Virginia Morell in the latest National Geographic discusses an interesting test of dog intelligence. A dog was shown a series of color photographs depicting dog-toys. After seeing image, the dog then had to go into a nearby room and retrieve the toy depicted in the photograph from among a stack of various toys and photographs. The dog brought back either the toy depicted or a photograph of it every time.

The fact that a dog can decode a photograph is pretty amazing. When asked what the photograph was, the dog essentially thought to itself (at least part of the time), "it's not the photograph that's important but the thing in the photo." It takes a certain amount of interpretive power to reach that point, and I doubt that any animal besides dogs or humans could do so. Humans are probably the only species that could spend 150 years retreating from it.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The "thing itself" eh? Do you think if you showed the dog the toy he (she?) could go into the next room and pick out the photograph? Ben.

wolf said...

I'll bet several species of primates could do the same , or even do what ben's saying.

Blake Andrews said...

You may be right about other species. But could a photography curator pass the test?

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