The University of Cambridge Department of Psychology A-Z

For more information and to visit the A-Z visit

Psychology A-Z Contributors (in alphabetical order) David Belin, The Blakemore Lab, Maria Cabrera-Alvarez, Nicky Clayton, Jeff Dalley, Lee de-Wit, Hana D’Souza, Sarah Foley, Sam Friedman, Usha Goswami, Mark Haggard, Claire Hughes, Sooz Imrie, Laura Katus, Amy Milton, Rhys Proud, Sinead Rocha, Jon Roozenbeek, Will Skylark, Deborah Talmi, Andrew Thwaites, Anne-Laura van Harmelen, Clive Wilkins and Leor Zmigrod 

C is for~ Crows and Children

Crows are often referred to as “feathered apes” because of their high cognitive abilities. Crows belong to a family of birds called corvids, which includes rooks, ravens, jackdaws, Eurasian jays, magpies and New Caledonian crows. Although corvids’ brains are very different from humans’ brains, corvids can solve problems that young children cannot. For example, corvids can solve a problem in which, in order to collect a reward from a thin transparent tube, they have to bend a piece of metal wire into a hook shape. Similarly, they know that to raise the water level to obtain a reward that would otherwise be out of beak reach they need to use stones that sink, not ones that float. Children under the age of seven years of age fail these tasks.

Interested in this topic? Consider investigating in more detail:

T is for~ Tango and Transferable Skills

Professor Nicky Clayton and Professor Clive Wilkins

Tango is a wordless conversation between the leader and the follower~ the leader signals an intention to move so that the follower can respond in a way that allows the two bodies to move as one in perfect synchrony, a silent conversation and connection between the two. Similar movements can be seen in corvids, who also use these synchronous movements to maintain their pair bonds. When it comes to cognitive abilities, such motor control provides transferable skills. These findings pose many questions. For example, how can the body remember things that the mind is not aware of?  How do we and other animals deal with the one to one correspondence problem, of having to imitate the movements precisely and yet adapt to a differently shaped body and even a different point of view?

Interested in this topic? Consider investigating in more detail:

About clivewilkins

Artist & Writer
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s