As part of her technique of cognitive
research on experimental animals, Michiko Saito conducted research in
which samples were shown to dogs. As far as the cognitive ability of dogs
is concerned, it had been thought that their eyesight rated about 0.2
to 0.3, and that they were colorblind. But through further researches,
it has been found that they can distinguish among three color panels,
and also that distinguish among the colors of a signal apparatus, are
capable of recognizing number values up to 5.
As one step in her research into the cognitive capacity of dogs, Ms. Saito
took up the issue of showing samples of basic shapes dogs to determine
whether they could discriminate among them. A specialized "Skinner
box" was prepared with three display windows and response apertures.
The device was set to feed automatically when a correct answer was generated,
and the apparatus was equipped to operate with a computer and sensor coordinated
for operant conditioning.
The shapes (stimuli) used were the circle, square and triangle. Initially,
as experimental pattern A, one shape was shown in the center display window.
Next, the same shape was shown in either the left or right window. In
pattern B, when the same shape was displayed in either the left or right
window, a different shape was shown in one of the remaining windows. For
pattern C, a 'x-sign' shape was displayed.
These three experimental patterns were conducted on three canine subjects
to determine the degree to which they are capable of distinguishing among
shapes. The results were that correct responses were attained in 88% of
pattern A cases, while only 48.8% of pattern B responses were correct.
"Despite the fact that initial training was repeated sufficiently,
it appears that the dogs did not sufficiently learn the procedures for
this experimental method, and appeared not to be comparing the contrastive
stimuli in the samples.
"Interestingly, when the stimulus was repeated in either
the left or right windows, a propensity toward increased correct responses
under certain conditions was evident, including a positional propensity
to select the circle, triangle and square (listed in order of preference).
In a significantly great proportion of instances, the correct response
was made when the shape appeared in the left display window, although
it cannot be said that the propensity based on shape is significant. It
was confirmed that when humans were present during the experiment, a positive
influence was exerted as the subject sensed the presence of the person."