Small Brain = Lots of Learning

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When I was younger, I used to watch ants scurry around my driveway. I would always think they ran around mindlessly doing absolutely nothing except for be creepy-crawly and scary. The video below shows that ants know a lot more then we give them credit for.
Now I realize the video is a little longer than necessary, and the music is pretty annoying, but if you watch it, you can see the ants learning while trying to cross between the two posts. First the ants try to reach across alone, then others start to pile on top of one another. Some may look at it as they are just hording together, but if you watch, you can see the ants realize that just two of them are not stable enough and they add more ants to the bridge. Through all the animal videos I watched I thought this was a good example of animals learning on their own, rather than just doing some sort of trick for a treat. The ants were faced with a problem, crossing the fence, and combined their brain power to come up with a solution, building an ant-bridge to get across.

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You say that the ants "realized" what needed to be done to get across from pole to pole. However, as we studied in our Psychology textbooks, even cats who have a much more developed brain than an ant never quite have that realization moment. It is more due to trial and error that leads them to discover the solution. I believe that this would be the same case with these ants.

I think you are taking my realization statement in the context that I mean overall, which is not the case. I said that they realized that two ants were not strong enough to hold the bridge, not that they had an "ah-ha" moment that we should all band together to create a bridge.

Amazing! These tiny creatures are working together towards a common goal. The realization hits them quickly that in order to make a bridge, they are going to need to work together. What part of their brains do you think are activated at this point? This is great psychology example being played out in real-life.

This is extremely interesting! I think this "realization" moment happens quite frequently in the learning process not only in ants, but also in other creatures and human beings. It is quickly learned in situations that as a group you can achieve a goal better than alone. I'm sure this is not the first time the ants have ever joined together to complete a task... however they just may have thought of using this strategy in this specific situation.

Never before have I witnessed this type of efficiency by a group of organisms other than humans. Seeing them in their trial-and-error process and later work effectively together is simply astonishing! I agree with the above comments, this is a true example of psychology happening in an applicable situation in our everyday lives. Without this group effort and "realization" of the situation, imagine how much more limited the species would be in their mobility around the environment!

This is awesome! Makes you wonder if they REALLY know what they're doing. What goes on inside their small brains? I personally think that this occurrence was more luck than critical thinking. If they truly had the skill to reason and make decisions then they would have realized that they could just climb down, across, and back up the other side, but who knows!

This is a great find! I enjoyed watching the ants figure out how to get across. The trial and error process of learning seems to work for organisms at this level and that's why they do not adapt as much. I really wonder what goes on inside the mind of an ant, hopefully not much. Thanks for the video!

It is really one of the most fantastic post and video clip I have been exposed to. Additionally, what make me more interest is the message of group work/ group dynamics underlying the "bridge". I am wondering if smarter people are more capable of using the brains to communicate and map the world in a more complexed yet functional way of living. Brain is a powerful tool for us to survive and make our own way.

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This page contains a single entry by mart2724 published on February 25, 2012 6:23 PM.

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