Planning for the future by western scrub-jays

Raby, C. R.; Alexis, D. M.; Dickinson, A.; Clayton, N. S.
February 2007
Nature;2/22/2007, Vol. 445 Issue 7130, p919
Academic Journal
Knowledge of and planning for the future is a complex skill that is considered by many to be uniquely human. We are not born with it; children develop a sense of the future at around the age of two and some planning ability by only the age of four to five. According to the Bischof-Köhler hypothesis, only humans can dissociate themselves from their current motivation and take action for future needs: other animals are incapable of anticipating future needs, and any future-oriented behaviours they exhibit are either fixed action patterns or cued by their current motivational state. The experiments described here test whether a member of the corvid family, the western scrub-jay (Aphelocoma californica), plans for the future. We show that the jays make provision for a future need, both by preferentially caching food in a place in which they have learned that they will be hungry the following morning and by differentially storing a particular food in a place in which that type of food will not be available the next morning. Previous studies have shown that, in accord with the Bischof-Köhler hypothesis, rats and pigeons may solve tasks by encoding the future but only over very short time scales. Although some primates and corvids take actions now that are based on their future consequences, these have not been shown to be selected with reference to future motivational states, or without extensive reinforcement of the anticipatory act. The results described here suggest that the jays can spontaneously plan for tomorrow without reference to their current motivational state, thereby challenging the idea that this is a uniquely human ability.


Related Articles

  • Technology Solutions For Business Needs. Robinson, Elliott // Policy & Practice (19426828);Oct2008, Vol. 66 Issue 4, p4 

    A letter to the editor is presented in response to the article "Using Automation to Transform the Lobby" that appeared in the August 2008 issue.

  • LETTERS. Dhanani, Iqbal // Canadian Architect;Sep2010, Vol. 55 Issue 9, p15 

    A letter to the editor is presented in response to the article "Call of the Wild," in the July 2010 issue.

  • 1966 Revisited. Bublin, Charles A. // American Journal of Public Health;Sep1972, Vol. 62 Issue 9, p1172 

    A letter to the editor is presented about several proposed health care plans and systems by the U.S. federal government.

  • The health plan's job. Richards Jr., John W. // Family Practice Management;Jul/Aug2006, Vol. 13 Issue 7, p16 

    A letter to the editor is presented in response to the article "How Do You Cope With Bundled Claims," in April 2006 issue.

  • Government actions need to be monitored. Wallace, George // Ontario Out of Doors;Jul2006, Vol. 38 Issue 6, p8 

    A letter to the editor is presented in response to the issue concerning government accountability toward sportsmen and natural resources in Ontario.

  • LETTERS.  // Inside Tucson Business;6/23/2008, Vol. 18 Issue 3, p27 

    A letter to the editor is presented in response to the article "Downtown is so hot, city boots TCC business, buys gotcha meters," published in the June 9, 2008 issue.

  • Letter to the Editor. Beaudry, Michael; Buck, Kendall L. // New Hampshire Business Review;12/24/2004, Vol. 26 Issue 27, p10A 

    Presents a letter to the editor on issues surrounding the lack of balanced housing in New Hampshire addressed to the newly elected governor of New Hampshire.

  • Clinton's big lie. McCaughey, Betsy // Modern Healthcare;10/8/2007, Vol. 37 Issue 40, p25 

    A letter to the editor is presented in response to the article "Clinton Health Plan, Take Two" in the September 24, 2007 issue.

  • City manager search editorial hits the mark. Gill, Bill // Grand Rapids Business Journal;12/15/2008, Vol. 26 Issue 51, p10 

    A letter to the editor is presented in response to an editorial on the search for a new Grand Rapids city manager in Michigan.

  • ReaderLetters. DeVore, Chuck // Orange County Business Journal;8/21/2006, Vol. 29 Issue 34, p71 

    A letter to the editor on public policy is presented.


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics