Comparative Reasoning

Daniel C. Krawczyk, Aaron Blaisdell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Animals are capable of highly interesting behavior. More complex reasoning abilities tend to occur in species that have large brains with proportionally large amounts of cortex. The prefrontal cortex supports numerous cognitive processes and may integrate information from diverse sources within the brain. Field studies give insight into the capacity of animals acting within their natural environment. Field studies do not allow control of extraneous factors and this can limit the conclusions that are able to be drawn. Laboratory studies of animal reasoning provide experimental control. Such studies tend to have challenges in replicating the problem solving that a species actually carries out in its natural environment. Imitation is a highly successful strategy for animals to learn and apply solutions that they observe in other members of their species. Association learning may be a mechanism that enables imitative behaviors. Other interesting capabilities are also possible in mammals and other large-brained species. Theory of mind and causal reasoning studies indicate that animal cognition may be more sophisticated than would be expected based on the formation of simple associations. Animals are capable of some types of tool use and relational reasoning tasks as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationReasoning
Subtitle of host publicationThe Neuroscience of how we Think
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9780128092859
ISBN (Print)9780128095768
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Causal reasoning
  • Classical conditioning
  • Cultural transmission
  • Field studies
  • Imitation
  • Learning
  • Relational reasoning
  • Theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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