Monday, April 7, 2008

Are animals stuck in time?

Dog owners, who have noticed that their four-legged friend seem equally delighted to see them after five minutes away as five hours, may wonder if animals can tell when time passes. Newly published research from The University of Western Ontario in London, Canada may bring us closer to answering that very question.

The results of the research, entitled “Episodic-Like Memory in Rats: Is it Based on When or How Long Ago,” appear in the current issue of the journal Science, which was released today.

William Roberts and his colleagues in Western’s Psychology Department found that rats are able to keep track of how much time has passed since they discovered a piece of cheese, be it a little or a lot, but they don’t actually form memories of when the discovery occurred. That is, the rats can’t place the memories in time.

Only the cue of "how long ago food was encountered" was used successfully by the rats.

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