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Insightful Problem Solving in an Asian Elephant

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dc.contributor.author Foerder, Preston en
dc.contributor.author Galloway, Marie en
dc.contributor.author Barthel, Tony C. en
dc.contributor.author Moore, Donald en
dc.contributor.author Reiss, Diana en
dc.date.accessioned 2013-08-05T16:24:51Z
dc.date.available 2013-08-05T16:24:51Z
dc.date.issued 2011
dc.identifier.citation Foerder, Preston, Galloway, Marie, Barthel, Tony C., Moore, Donald, and Reiss, Diana. 2011. "<a href="https%3A%2F%2Frepository.si.edu%2Fhandle%2F10088%2F21105">Insightful Problem Solving in an Asian Elephant</a>." <em>PLoS ONE</em>. 6 (8):1&ndash;7. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0023251">https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0023251</a> en
dc.identifier.issn 1932-6203
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10088/21105
dc.description.abstract The aha moment or the sudden arrival of the solution to a problem is a common human experience. Spontaneous problem solving without evident trial and error behavior in humans and other animals has been referred to as insight. Surprisingly, elephants, thought to be highly intelligent, have failed to exhibit insightful problem solving in previous cognitive studies. We tested whether three Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) would use sticks or other objects to obtain food items placed out-of-reach and overhead. Without prior trial and error behavior, a 7-year-old male Asian elephant showed spontaneous problem solving by moving a large plastic cube, on which he then stood, to acquire the food. In further testing he showed behavioral flexibility, using this technique to reach other items and retrieving the cube from various locations to use as a tool to acquire food. In the cube&#39;s absence, he generalized this tool utilization technique to other objects and, when given smaller objects, stacked them in an attempt to reach the food. The elephant&#39;s overall behavior was consistent with the definition of insightful problem solving. Previous failures to demonstrate this ability in elephants may have resulted not from a lack of cognitive ability but from the presentation of tasks requiring trunk-held sticks as potential tools, thereby interfering with the trunk&#39;s use as a sensory organ to locate the targeted food. en
dc.relation.ispartof PLoS ONE en
dc.title Insightful Problem Solving in an Asian Elephant en
dc.type Journal Article en
dc.identifier.srbnumber 102031
dc.identifier.doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0023251
rft.jtitle PLoS ONE
rft.volume 6
rft.issue 8
rft.spage 1
rft.epage 7
dc.description.SIUnit Peer-reviewed en
dc.description.SIUnit NZP en
dc.citation.spage 1
dc.citation.epage 7

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