Animal Minds

‌Lecture Series Description: Although psychology is associated with the study of the human mind, much of what we know about our thinking was first discovered by observing animals. In this lecture series, we will discuss the psychology of animal behavior by reviewing classic psychological studies and groundbreaking new work on the mental lives of various animal species, both wild and domesticated. We will discuss research on animal language and communication, emotion, intelligence, and memory, all of which point to remarkably sophisticated thinking across the animal kingdom.

Lecture Series Information: Wednesdays, 1:00-3:00 p.m., starting February 7, 2018, O'Shaughnessy Educational Center Auditorium, University of St. Thomas St. Paul Campus

Lecture Series Educator: Ben Denkinger, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in cognitive and biological psychology at Augsburg University. His research focuses on age-related changes in cognitive abilities, memory, and time perception. He teaches courses in general psychology, cognition, research methods, and the psychology of aging at both the undergraduate level, and to community organizations across the state.

Fee for the series:  $90 per person

To register on-line with a credit card on our secure page, click on this link:

To print out a form to complete and then mail in with a check or cash payment, click on this link: ‌Winter-Spring 2018 Registration Form

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Detailed Lecture Series Syllabus:

Feb. 7

Introduction to Comparative Psychology

In this session, we will learn about the field of Comparative Psychology, the use of animal models in research, cross-species genetic similarity estimates, and research ethics for animal studies.

Feb. 14

Animal intelligence, learning, and memory I

We will begin our investigation of animal intelligence closest to home by looking at research on the age-old question: Which is smarter, cats or dogs?

Feb. 21

Animal intelligence, learning, and memory II

During this session, we will expand our scope to discuss animals with advanced memory and problem solving skills, including chimps with photographic memory, counting crows, and clever monkeys.

Feb. 28 

Animal communication I

To begin our section on animal language, we will discuss the various ways that animals communicate naturally in the wild, and evaluate the degree to which their language systems mirror our own.

March 7

Animal communication II

We next turn to animals that have been trained in the use of human speech or symbols, and the attempts to teach language to apes, parrots, and other animals, to varying degrees of success. 

March 14

Animal consciousness and emotional experience:

Do animals experience the world as we do? To conclude the series, we will discuss how human and animal behavior point to common ways of perceiving and responding to the world around us, including the emotional reactions we experience.