Ludwig Huber

Ludwig Huber
University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna | vetmed · Messerli Forschungsinstitut

Prof. Mag. Dr. rer. nat.

About

303
Publications
68,660
Reads
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7,273
Citations
Introduction
I am Professor of the Natural Science Foundations of Animal Ethics and Human-Animal Interactions and Head of Comparative Cognition, which includes the Clever Dog Lab Vienna, the Research Station on Cognition and Communication (Haidlhof) and is linked to the Wolf Science Center (Ernstbrunn). My research focuses on animal cognition in a broad, comparative manner, including such diverse species as pigeons, kea, marmosets, dogs, tortoise, lizards, poison frogs, giant panda and archer fish.
Additional affiliations
September 2011 - September 2015
University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
Position
  • Head of Comparative Cognition

Publications

Publications (303)
Preprint
The extent to which dogs (Canis familiaris) as a domesticated species understand human intentions is still a matter of debate. The unwilling-unable paradigm has been developed to examine whether nonhuman animals are sensitive to intentions underlying human actions. In this paradigm, subjects tended to show more patience toward a human that appears...
Article
Full-text available
Certain motion cues like self-propulsion and speed changes allow human and nonhuman animals to quickly detect animate beings. In the current eye-tracking study, we examined whether dogs’ (Canis familiaris) pupil size was influenced by such motion cues. In Experiment 1, dogs watched different videos with normal or reversed playback direction showing...
Preprint
Comparative neuroimaging allows for the identification of similarities and differences between species. It provides an important and promising avenue, to answer questions about the evolutionary origins of the brain’s organization, in terms of both structure and function. Dog fMRI has recently become one particularly promising and increasingly used...
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Pupil–corneal reflection (P–CR) eye tracking has gained a prominent role in studying dog visual cognition, despite methodological challenges that often lead to lower-quality data than when recording from humans. In the current study, we investigated if and how the morphology of dogs might interfere with tracking of P–CR systems, and to what extent...
Preprint
Full-text available
Pupil-corneal reflection (P--CR) eye-tracking has gained a prominent role in studying dog visual cognition, despite methodological challenges that often lead to lower quality data than when recording from humans. In the current study, we investigated if and how the morphology of dogs might interfere with tracking of P--CR systems, and to what exte...
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Overimitation, the copying of causally irrelevant or non-functional actions, is well-known from humans but completely absent in other primates. Recent studies from our lab have provided evidence for overimitation in canines. Previously, we found that half of tested pet dogs copied their human caregiver’s irrelevant action, while only few did so whe...
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Recognition of rotated images can challenge visual systems. Humans often diminish the load of cognitive tasks employing bodily actions (cognitive offloading). To investigate these phenomena from a comparative perspective, we trained eight dogs (Canis familiaris) to discriminate between bi-dimensional shapes. We then tested the dogs with rotated ver...
Preprint
Overimitation, the copying of causally irrelevant or non-functional actions, is well-known from humans but completely absent in other primates. Recent studies from our lab have provided evidence for overimitation in canines. Previously, we found that half of tested pet dogs copied their human caregiver's irrelevant action, while only few did so whe...
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Full-text available
Contact causality is one of the fundamental principles allowing us to make sense of our physical environment. From an early age, humans perceive spatio-temporally contiguous launching events as causal. Surprisingly little is known about causal perception in non-human animals, particularly outside the primate order. Violation-of-expectation paradigm...
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The midsession reversal paradigm confronts an animal with a two-choice discrimination task where the reward contingencies are reversed at the midpoint of the session. Species react to the reversal with either win-stay/lose-shift , using local information of reinforcement, or reversal estimation , using global information, e.g. time, to estimate the...
Preprint
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Accurately recognizing other individuals is fundamental for successful social interactions. While the neural underpinnings of this skill have been studied extensively in humans, less is known about the evolutionary origins of the brain areas specialized for recognising faces or bodies. Studying dogs ( Canis familiaris ), a non-primate species with...
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The use of different tools to achieve a single goal is considered unique to human and primate technology. To unravel the origins of such complex behaviors, it is crucial to investigate tool use that is not necessary for a species’ survival. These cases can be assumed to have emerged innovatively and be applied flexibly, thus emphasizing creativity...
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We investigated whether dogs (Canis familiaris) distinguish between human true (TB) and false beliefs (FB). In three experiments with a pre-registered change of location task, dogs (n = 260) could retrieve food from one of two opaque buckets after witnessing a misleading suggestion by a human informant (the ‘communicator’) who held either a TB or a...
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We have limited knowledge on how dogs perceive humans and their actions. Various researchers investigated how they process human facial expressions, but their brain responses to complex social scenarios remain unclear. While undergoing fMRI, we exposed pet dogs to videos showing positive social and neutral non-social interactions between their care...
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Tool use research has suffered from a lack of consistent theoretical frameworks. There is a plethora of tool use definitions and the most widespread ones are so inclusive that the behaviors that fall under them arguably do not have much in common. The situation is aggravated by the prevalence of anecdotes, which have played an undue role in the lit...
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Animal cooperation in the wild often involves multiple individuals that must tolerate each other in close proximity. However, most cooperation experiments in the lab are done with two animals, that are often also physically separated. Such experiments are useful for answering some pertinent questions, for example about the understanding of the role...
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Clicker training is considered a welfare-friendly way of teaching novel behaviors to animals because it is mostly based on the positive reinforcement. However, trainers largely vary in their way of applying this training technique. According to the most, a reward (e.g., food) should follow every click, while others claim that dogs learn faster when...
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Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of awake and unrestrained dogs (Canis familiaris) has been established as a novel opportunity for comparative neuroimaging, promising important insights into the evolutionary roots of human brain function and cognition. However, data processing and analysis pipelines are often derivatives of methodologic...
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Behavioural studies revealed that the dog–human relationship resembles the human mother–child bond, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we report the results of a multi-method approach combining fMRI (N = 17), eye-tracking (N = 15), and behavioural preference tests (N = 24) to explore the engagement of an attachment-like system in d...
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Humans interact with animals in numerous ways and on numerous levels. We are indeed living in an "animal"s world,' in the sense that our lives are very much intertwined with the lives of animals. This also means that animals, like those dogs we commonly refer to as our pets, are living in a "human's world" in the sense that it is us, not them, who,...
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The prediction of upcoming events is of importance not only to humans and non-human primates but also to other animals that live in complex environments with lurking threats or moving prey. In this study, we examined motion tracking and anticipatory looking in dogs in two eye-tracking experiments. In Experiment 1, we presented pet dogs (N = 14) wit...
Conference Paper
Measurement of behavior a major challenge in many animal-related disciplines, including ACI. This usually requires choosing specific parameters for measuring, related to the investigated hypothesis. Therefore, a key challenge is determining a priori what parameters are informational for a given experiment. The scope of this challenge is raised even...
Article
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From an early age, children explore their environment in a way suggesting that they reason about causal variables and seek causal explanations. Indeed, following extensive studies of problem-solving abilities in chimpanzees, Povinelli (Folk Physics for Apes, Oxford University Press, 2000) proposed that this ability to reason about unobservable vari...
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The ability to innovate, i.e., to exhibit new or modified learned behaviours, can facilitate adaptation to environmental changes or exploiting novel resources. We hereby introduce a comparative approach for studying innovation rate, the ‘Innovation Arena’ (IA), featuring the simultaneous presentation of 20 interchangeable tasks, which subjects enco...
Preprint
Full-text available
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of awake and unrestrained dogs ( Canis familiaris ) has been established as a novel opportunity for comparative neuroimaging, promising important insights into the evolutionary roots of human brain function and cognition. However, data processing and analysis pipelines are often derivatives of methodolog...
Article
The aim of this review is to discuss recent arguments and findings in the comparative study of empathy. Based on a multidisciplinary approach including psychology and ethology, we review the non-human animal literature concerning theoretical frameworks, methodology, and research outcomes. One specific objective is to highlight discrepancies between...
Article
Dogs have not only shown different kinds of social learning, from either conspecifics or humans, including do-as-I-do imitation, deferred imitation, and selective imitation, but in two previous studies they have also shown an eagerness to copy causally irrelevant actions. This so-called overimitation is prevalent in humans but is totally absent in...
Article
This study investigates vocal development of nestling kea parrots (Nestor notabilis). First, we examine how many structurally distinct call types were present during the nestling period, and the age in which call types occurred. Based on studies with other avian species, we predicted that kea nestlings would have multiple call types, with some pres...
Article
Full-text available
Previous studies showed that kea are able to cooperate in experiments based on the loose‐string paradigm, but success rates were low, except when tested in stable dyads. We trained kea with low success rates to attend to the handling of the string by a human partner. This vastly improved subsequent coordination during cooperation with kea partners....
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[This corrects the article DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0195448.].
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In recent years, two well-developed methods of studying mental processes in humans have been successively applied to dogs. First, eye-tracking has been used to study visual cognition without distraction in unrestrained dogs. Second, noninvasive functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been used for assessing the brain functions of dogs in v...
Article
Vocal behaviour of nesting altricial birds is subject to selection pressure from several sources. Offspring beg to attract parents’ attention, thus increasing the chances of being fed, but also increasing the chances of being detected by predators. Research on passerines has shown that parents may reduce the risk of nest predation by alarm calling...
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Background The consumption of conspecific young by adult individuals is a common phenomenon across various animal taxa. Possible adaptive benefits of such behaviour include the acquisition of nutrients, decreased competition for one’s own offspring, and/or increased mating opportunities. Clutch cannibalism has occasionally been observed in several...
Article
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Experimental work on captive Goffin’s cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana) has highlighted the remarkable cognitive abilities of this species. However, little is known about its behavior in the natural habitat on the Tanimbar Archipelago in Indonesia. In order to fully understand the evolutionary roots leading to cognitively advanced skills, such as mult...
Article
Full-text available
The ability to innovatively use or even manufacture different tools depending on a current situation can be silhouetted against examples of stereotyped, inborn tool use/manufacture and is thus often associated to advanced cognitive processing. In this study we confronted non-specialized, yet innovative tool making birds, Goffin’s cockatoos (Cacatua...
Data
Raw data: Contains the data obtained for the experiments in Microsoft excel. (XLSX)
Data
Supplementary information: Contains details of both the training procedure as well as the results in Microsoft word. (DOCX)
Article
Full-text available
Aging is associated with a decline in cognitive functions such as learning, memory, attention, cognitive flexibility, and executive functions. Recent evidence indicates that interventions such as exercise, diet and cognitive training can be used to reduce the rate of age-dependent cognitive decline. In this study, we examined the changes in discrim...
Article
When tested under laboratory conditions, Goffin’s cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana) demonstrate numerous sophisticated cognitive skills. Most importantly, this species has shown the ability to manufacture and use tools. However, little is known about the ecology of these cockatoos, endemic to the Tanimbar Islands in Indonesia. Here we provide first in...
Article
Scientists as well as farmers are increasingly interested in the mental capacities of pigs. Recent research has revealed surprising cognitive abilities, such as episodic memory, intentional deception and even theory of mind. Still, our knowledge about perceptuo-cognitive abilities, especially in the visual domain, is lagging behind. In the few stud...
Article
Full-text available
Individual behavioural differences in pet dogs are of great interest from a basic and applied research perspective. Most existing dog personality tests have specific (practical) goals in mind and so focused only on a limited aspect of dogs’ personality, such as identifying problematic (aggressive or fearful) behaviours, assessing suitability as wor...
Data
Variables used in the video rating. The variables were rated on a Likert scale from 1–5 (“disagree strongly”, “tend to disagree”, “partly-partly”, “tend to agree”, “agree strongly”). E: experimenter, O: owner. (PDF)
Data
Variables from video coding that remained in the analysis. E: experimenter, O: owner. Durations were calculated as percent of time. (PDF)
Data
The questionnaire used in the study (DPQ short form, Jones, 2008). The questions were rated on a Likert scale from 1–5 (“disagree strongly”, “tend to disagree”, “partly-partly”, “tend to agree”, “agree strongly”), items marked with an asterisk were reverse coded. The internal consistency of factors calculated from the data of the present study are...
Data
Results of the subtest-level PCA analyses of the video coding. For definition of the variables see S1 Table. E: experimenter, O: owner. Loadings > 0.4 are in bold. (PDF)
Data
Results of the subtest-level PCA analyses of the video rating. E: experimenter, O: owner. Loadings > 0.4 are in bold. (PDF)
Article
Full-text available
Kujala (2017) presents an extensive overview of existing research on canine emotions in comparison to those of other non-human animals and humans. This commentary provides some additional research results on the intensively debated field of empathy in dogs. We focus on recent advances in the understanding of a fundamental building block of empathy-...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Aged dogs suffer from reduced mobility and activity levels, which can affect their daily lives. It is quite typical for owners of older dogs to reduce all activities such as walking, playing and training, since their dog may appear to no longer need them. Previous studies have shown that ageing can be slowed by mental and physical stimulation, and...
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A decline in the physical or mental health of older dogs can be a challenge for the owners, whose relationship with their dog is compromised by the cognitive and behavioral changes in their dogs. Although dog owners tend to consider many physiological and behavioral changes in old dogs as part of the normal aging process, it is important to differe...
Conference Paper
Social behaviour is a key element of the life and well-being of social species. Nevertheless, social behaviour can be constrained for animals kept in captivity. Technology has the potential to improve relations for non-human animals in situations where social contacts are sub-optimal, disrupted, or lacking. This paper discusses the implications of...
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Dogs are an outstanding model to study heterospecific communication. They react contagiously to human visual and acoustic stimuli and can discriminate between facial expressions of humans. However, their physiological reactions to emotional relevant stimuli are still not well understood. This study examined the cardiac responses of domestic dog...
Article
Learning by observing others is especially beneficial for young and naïve individuals. The relationship to the social partner is thus important. While peers are often used as demonstrators to test for social learning abilities in a species, thereby studying horizontal transmission of information, this study focused on the vertical transmission of i...
Article
This commentary contrasts evolutionary plausibility with empirical evidence and cognitive continuity with radiation and convergent evolution. So far, neither within-species nor between-species comparisons on the basis of rigorous experimental and species-appropriate tests substantiate the claims made in the target article. Caution is advisable on m...
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Full-text available
Exploration (interacting with objects to gain information) and neophobia (avoiding novelty) are considered independent traits shaped by the socio-ecology of a given species. However, in the literature it is often assumed that neophobia inhibits exploration. Here, we investigate how different approaches to novelty (fast or slow) determine the time a...