Soon you’ll be able to find out if your beloved pup is a canine Einstein. Researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Edinburgh are working on a general intelligence test for dogs. Like the human IQ test, the exam will pose a series of challenges designed to measure canine problem-solving abilities.
For a study, published in the journal Intelligence, researchers administered a prototype IQ test to 68 working border collies. The exam took less than an hour and was comprised of three cognitive tasks: a navigational challenge in which the collies found food behind barriers, a challenge in which they judged different quantities of food, and a test to see how well they could follow a human pointing to an object.
The researchers found that the dogs that excelled in one area tended to excel in all three. Though more research is needed, they believe that these findings imply dogs may have measurable “general intelligence,” in the same way humans do. That is, like humans, dogs seem to “perform comparably across different types of cognitive tasks.”
Researchers believe their research may aid in the study of both canine cognition and human health. “Dogs are one of the few animals that reproduce many of the key features of dementia, so understanding their cognitive abilities could be valuable in helping us to understand the causes this disorder in humans and possibly test treatments for it,” LSE research associate Rosalind Arden explained. Arden also hopes to find links between canine intelligence, physical health, and lifespan—a connection that has been noted in humans, but has been difficult to study.
Dogs aren’t the only animals whose cognitive abilities could shed light on human issues, but they may be the most enthusiastic test subjects. Arden explained, “Dogs are excellent for this kind of work because they are willing to participate and seem to enjoy taking part."
[h/t Science Daily]