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Comparative CognitionExperimental Explorations of Animal Intelligence$
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Wasserman and Thomas R Zentall

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195377804

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377804.001.0001

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The Questions of Temporal and Spatial Displacement in Animal Cognition

The Questions of Temporal and Spatial Displacement in Animal Cognition

(p.145) 8 The Questions of Temporal and Spatial Displacement in Animal Cognition
Comparative Cognition

William A. Roberts

Oxford University Press

Human language and cognition are often described as having the property of displacement. Displacement may be both temporal and spatial. Thus, we may think or communicate about events that occurred at some time in the past or that will occur at some time in the future. This ability is referred to as cognitive time travel, and memories of personal events that occurred at specific times in the past are referred to as episodic memories. People also can think or communicate about places distant from their current location, and we might call this cognitive spatial travel. This chapter examines whether these displacement abilities of humans can be found in animals. With regard to the temporal displacement question, it considers the hypothesis that animals are “stuck in time.” A parallel “stuck-in-space” hypothesis may be advanced regarding spatial displacement. This chapter reviews some of the evidence on the stuck-in-time hypothesis concerning both the possibility of episodic memory in animals and the anticipation of future events. The questions of temporal and spatial displacement in animal cognition are discussed.

Keywords:   spatial displacement, temporal displacement, episodic memory, stuck in time, time travel, spatial travel, animal cognition, stuck in space

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