Dogs are man’s best friend , and can be the source of many happy memories. Many tears of homecoming between humans and their pets have been captured on video which proves that dogs can actually remember their owners. But, do dogs have the same ability to retain long-term memories as humans?
The experts working in the area of animal care have been unable to resolve this question, however a new research may shed the light on your dog’s thinking.
What is memory’s nature?
Let’s look at two distinct ways of recalling to discover the root of this dog-related dispute.
We’ll begin by discussing “semantic memories.” This term refers to the vast, general understanding of the world. Memory of things that we deliberately learn, such as words or numbers do not have a connection to any specific moment in time.
If dogs have semantic memory is a subject that is not a matter of debate. Dogs are able to associate the smell and appearance of their owner with comfort and security. They are able to identify the kind of kibble they prefer most, while we’re on the sofa where they want to lie on and the toys they enjoy playing with.
It’s unclear but it is not clear if dogs possess “episodic memory” which is the ability to recall specific events from the past. Recollections of the episodic kind include specific details of events from the past for example, your food choices or the vehicle you rented that you drove.
The process of determining whether or not the dog’s memory is episodic is a difficult.
A researcher studying canine cognition in Eotvos Lorand University, tells Inverse, “Other definitions are dependent on the contentthe things that are recalled, and some definitions are based upon the way in which is retained.”
Episodic memory is defined as remembering an event after the fact, but without realizing their significance in the moment of the event.
Based on this idea it is not a matter of the fact that a dog will recognize the face of its owner all the time or recall specific events in the past but what is important is how these two kinds of information are stored in the brain of the dog.
Do dogs have memories of their own?
The argument is that “episodic memory is usually connected to self-awareness” is the most important reason that canines haven’t been credited with this type of memory in the past.
“If you can recall scenes that you have seen in the past in your mind and you are aware about being there”. For years researchers have debated whether self-awareness is a trait that is only available to humans.
Recent studies on dogs however reveal that there’s more to episodic memories than self-awareness.
Research presented in 2016 examined whether or not dogs make use of episodic memory in order to remember the actions of individuals in the past. Dogs were taught how to mimic human movements at will A basic exercise was then followed. The ability of the dogs to retain the training exercises were assessed in for a minute and an hour later.
In all instances dogs were able accurately recall the actions of their human counterparts, showing for the very first time dogs were able to recall events.
According to study, dogs do produce memories that resemble episodes.
However, scientists say that since they aren’t sure if dogs have self-awareness or no what they can say is that dogs possess “episodic-like” recall.
In 2020, she will release a another study on dog episodic memories. The purpose of this study was to find out if dogs were able to remember their previous actions. They were found to “represent their own behavior and recall them with episodic memory,” as stated by the study’s authors.
Dogs are “more aware of their actions than was previously believed.
Do dogs have memories of events that occurred in the past?
Canine memory has been proven to be reliable however, how long will canine memories last?
Although it’s possible that dogs possess short-term memory, the memories they have are likely to be swiftly erased. Dogs were discovered to have “shockingly inadequate” memory in a research conducted in 2010. The study looked at their ability to recall the places they’d been and what they’d seen. The memory capacity of dogs “declined more as time passed,” as was also observed in research conducted in 2016.
The process of forgetting that occurs as we age isn’t exclusive to dogs as well. The ability to remember changes over the course of time. As with humans the dogs’ memories of episodic events are less durable than their semantic ones.