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Animal cognition

Animal cognition is the study of the mental capacities that non-human animals have. The study of animal conditioning and learning used in this field was developed from comparative psychology, it has been influenced by research in ethology, behavioral ecology, evolutionary psychology, hence the alternative name cognitive ethology is sometimes used. Many behaviors associated with the term animal intelligence are subsumed within animal cognition. Researchers have examined animal cognition in mammals, reptiles and invertebrates; the mind and behavior of non-human animals has captivated human imagination for centuries. Many writers, such as Descartes, have speculated about the absence of the animal mind; these speculations led to many observations of animal behavior before modern science and testing were available. This resulted in the creation of multiple hypotheses about animal intelligence. One of Aesop's Fables was The Crow and the Pitcher, in which a crow drops pebbles into a vessel of water until he is able to drink.

This was a accurate reflection of the capability of corvids to understand water displacement. The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder was the earliest to attest that said story reflects the behavior of real-life corvids. Aristotle, in his biology, hypothesized a causal chain where an animal's sense organs transmitted information to an organ capable of making decisions, to a motor organ. Despite Aristotle's cardiocentrism, this approached some modern understandings of information processing. Early inferences were not precise or accurate. Nonetheless, interest in animal mental abilities, comparisons to humans, increased with early myrmecology, the study of ant behavior, as well as the classification of humans as primates beginning with Linnaeus. Coined by 19th-century British psychologist C. Lloyd Morgan, Morgan's Canon remains a fundamental precept of comparative psychology. In its developed form, it states that: In no case is an animal activity to be interpreted in terms of higher psychological processes if it can be interpreted in terms of processes which stand lower in the scale of psychological evolution and development.

In other words, Morgan believed that anthropomorphic approaches to animal behavior were fallacious, that people should only consider behaviour as, for example, purposive or affectionate, if there is no other explanation in terms of the behaviours of more primitive life-forms to which we do not attribute those faculties. Speculation about animal intelligence yielded to scientific study after Darwin placed humans and animals on a continuum, although Darwin's anecdotal approach to the topic would not pass scientific muster on; this method would be expanded by his protégé George J. Romanes, who played a key role in the opposition to anti-Darwinism. In spite of this, Romanes is most famous for two major flaws in his work: his focus on anecdotal observations and entrenched anthropomorphism. Unsatisfied with the previous approach, E. L. Thorndike brought animal behavior into the laboratory for objective scrutiny. Thorndike's careful observations of the escape of cats and chicks from puzzle boxes led him to conclude that what appears to the naive human observer to be intelligent behavior may be attributable to simple associations.

According to Thorndike, using Morgan's Canon, the inference of animal reason, insight, or consciousness is unnecessary and misleading. At about the same time, I. P. Pavlov began his seminal studies of conditioned reflexes in dogs. Pavlov abandoned attempts to infer canine mental processes, he was, willing to propose unseen physiological processes that might explain his observations. The work of Thorndike, Pavlov and a little of the outspoken behaviorist John B. Watson set the direction of much research on animal behavior for more than half a century. During this time there was considerable progress in understanding simple associations. Many experiments on conditioning followed; the most explicit dismissal of the idea that mental processes control behavior was the radical behaviorism of Skinner. This view seeks to explain behavior, including "private events" like mental images by reference to the environmental contingencies impinging on the human or animal. Despite the predominantly behaviorist orientation of research before 1960, the rejection of mental processes in animals was not universal during those years.

Influential exceptions included, for example, Wolfgang Köhler and his insightful chimpanzees and Edward Tolman whose proposed cognitive map was a significant contribution to subsequent cognitive research in both humans and animals. Beginning around 1960, a "cognitive revolution" in research on humans spurred a similar transformation of research with animals. Inference to processes not directly observable became acceptable and commonplace. An important proponent of this shift in thinking was Donald O. Hebb, who argued that "mind" is a name for processes in the head that control complex behavior, that it is both necessary and possible

Alan Rickman

Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman was an English actor and director. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, performing in modern and classical theatre productions, his first big television role came in 1982, when he played the Vicomte de Valmont in the RSC stage production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985, after the production transferred to Broadway in 1987 he was nominated for a Tony Award. Rickman's first cinematic role was as the German terrorist leader Hans Gruber in Die Hard, he appeared as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, for which he received the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. L. O'Hara in An Awfully Big Adventure. Rickman made his television acting debut playing Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet as part of the BBC’s Shakespeare series, he starred in television films, playing the title character in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny, which won him a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, Dr. Alfred Blalock in the Emmy-winning Something the Lord Made.

Rickman died of pancreatic cancer on 14 January 2016 at age 69. His final film roles were as Lieutenant General Frank Benson in the thriller Eye in the Sky, the voice of Absolem, the caterpillar in Alice Through the Looking Glass. Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman was born into a working class family in Hammersmith, London, on 21 February 1946, he was the son of a Welsh mother, Margaret Doreen Rose, a housewife, Bernard William Rickman, a factory worker, house painter and decorator, former World War II aircraft fitter. Rickman was of Welsh descent, his father was Catholic and his mother was a Methodist. Rickman had two brothers and Michael, a sister, Sheila; when Rickman was eight years old, his father died of lung cancer, leaving his mother to raise him and his three siblings alone. According to Paton, the family was "rehoused by the council and moved to an Acton estate to the west of Wormwood Scrubs Prison, where his mother struggled to bring up four children on her own by working for the Post Office."

She divorced Rickman's stepfather after three years. Before Rickman met Rima Horton at age 19, he stated that his first crush was at 10 years old on a girl named Amanda at his school's sports day; as a child, he excelled at watercolour painting. Rickman attended Derwentwater Primary School in Acton, Latymer Upper School in London through the Direct Grant system, where he became involved in drama. After leaving Latymer with science A Levels, he attended Chelsea College of Art and Design from 1965 to 1968 and the Royal College of Art from 1968 to 1970, his training allowed him to work as a graphic designer for the Royal College of Art's in-house magazine, ARK, the Notting Hill Herald, which he considered a more stable occupation than acting. After graduation and several friends opened a graphic design studio called Graphiti, but after three years of successful business, he decided that he was going to pursue acting professionally, he wrote to request an audition with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, which he attended from 1972 until 1974.

While there, he supported himself by working as a dresser for Sir Nigel Hawthorne and Sir Ralph Richardson. After graduating from RADA, Rickman worked extensively with British repertory and experimental theatre groups in productions including Chekhov's The Seagull and Snoo Wilson's The Grass Widow at the Royal Court Theatre, appeared three times at the Edinburgh International Festival. In 1978, he performed with the Court Drama Group, gaining roles in Romeo and Juliet and A View from the Bridge, among other plays. While working with the Royal Shakespeare Company, he was cast in, he appeared in The Barchester Chronicles, the BBC's adaptation of Trollope's first two Barchester novels, as the Reverend Obadiah Slope. Rickman was given the male lead, the Vicomte de Valmont, in the 1985 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Christopher Hampton's adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, directed by Howard Davies. After the RSC production transferred to Broadway in 1987, Rickman received both a Tony Award nomination and a Drama Desk Award nomination for his performance.

Rickman played a wide range of roles. He played romantic leads including Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility and Jamie in Truly, Deeply. Rickman's role as Hans Gruber in Die Hard earned him a spot on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains list as the 46th best villain in film history, though he revealed he did not take the role as he did not think Die Hard was the kind of film he wanted