Perception and decision making; studies in the domestic cat
Dr. Peter Mark Szenczi
The mental representation of the environment in an animal’s mind based on how it makes decisions is not directly measurable. What we can observe and infer from this regarding cognitive process is the product: the behaviour of the individual. Both the behaviour and the underlining mental processes are shaped by natural selection.
If we are to study the behaviour and cognition of a species it is very important to know the model species’ ecological and social background and its natural behavioural repertoire; what sensory modalities it mainly uses and what are the limits of these. We must always keep in mind that only by understanding how an animal perceives its surroundings and using relevant stimuli in the appropriate context state will lead us to valid results.
We chose to study the domestic cat because it gives us a unique opportunity to conduct experiments with a naturalistic model using an almost non-domesticated carnivore in its natural environment while still enjoying the benefits of a widely available easy-to-work-with species. In our lines of research, we try to ask ecologically relevant questions about the behaviour of our model species with special focus on its development.
Biologist. Expert in data analysis, statistics and experimental design. Mainly interested in animal personality, development and communication.