cats are stupid|Richard_F|richard@cfz.org.uk|08/24/07 at 11:42:03|richard_f|xx|0|81.152.72.125|A new study has measured just low long cats can remember certain
kinds of informationó10 minutes.



The research was designed primarily to compare cats' working memory
of their recent movements with their visual memories, and found that
cats remember better with their bodies than their eyes when they have
encountered an object placed in their path by say, an annoying owner
or experimenter.

When a cat steps over a stray toy or shoe left on the floor on the
way to its food dish, it has to coordinate the stepping action of its
front legs with its hind legs.

"Animals, including humans, unconsciously keep track of the location
of objects relative to the body as they move, and this tracking is
largely dependent on signals associated with movement of the body,"
said researcher Keir Pearson of the University of Alberta in Canada.

Though researchers were aware of this association, they wondered
exactly how kitty remembers to bring her hind legs up after her front
legs have cleared an obstacle.

To test cats' coordination, the researchers looked at how well they
could remember having just stepped over a hurdle. The researchers
stopped cats after their front legs had cleared an obstacle, but
before their hind legs went over.

They then distracted the animals with food and lowered the obstacle
to see how the tabbies would respond. The cats remembered having
stepped over the hurdle for at least 10 minutes, bringing their hind
legs up to clear the object, even though it wasn't there.

To compare this working memory to the cats' visual memory of the
obstacle, the researchers repeated the experiment, this time stopping
the cats just before they made their first step over the hurdle.

Turns out the cats weren't so good at remembering what they had seen
but not yet done: when the obstacle was removed this time, the cats
forgot it had even been there in the first place and continued on
their way.

"There's not high-stepping at all," Pearson told LiveScience.

"We've found that the long-lasting memory for guiding hind legs over
an obstacle requires stepping of the forelegs over the obstacle,"
Pearson said. "The main surprise was how short lasting the visual
memory on its own wasójust a few seconds when animals were stopped
before their forelegs stepped over the obstacle."

Research with horses and dogs has shown similar results, Pearson
said.

Similar memories may play a role in humans' ability to navigate
objects in the dark or remember where they parked their car in the
morning.

By actually walking from your car into your office, you solidify the
memory of what space your car is in and don't spend half an hour
looking for itówell, not usually.

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