My thesis on exploratory learning

How do different animals cope with the vast environmental complexity they face from birth or hatching? If animals’ genes have not provided the necessary information, then exploration is essential for gathering information and learning about the surrounding world. Much of cognition research to date has focussed on what the different abilities of different animal species are, rather than how they actually process information. This thesis has taken a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to tackle this problem from different angles: asking how the senses, environment and different behavioural strategies influence exploratory learning – specifically in the naturally exploratory parrot and human child. It investigated parrots’ visual fields and their tactile ‘bill tip organ’ to describe the limits of their sensorimotor exploration, both in approach to and during manipulation of an object. A series of increasingly complex behavioural tasks were also conducted with parrots and children, involving different novel objects and causal problems. This project has given us insight into how we and other animals structure information in different situations. It has the potential to expand the understanding of a wide range of fields, such as in aiding how human developmental disorders may be treated, or by informing robotics design.

My thesis on the†University of Birmingham repository

Download my thesis here

© Zoe Demery 2012