Intelligence in Animals and Machines

Module code: 826G5
Level 7 (Masters)
15 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar, Laboratory
Assessment modes: Coursework

The module will develop an understanding of what it means for an animal or a machine to behave intelligently, and how brain and behavioural systems are adapted to enable an animal to cope effectively within its environment.

We consider diverse aspects of intelligence including navigation and motor control, tool-use, language, memory and social skills.

We ask how these are related to one another and how they are matched to the particular needs of animals. We finally consider what we can learn about intelligence through computational modelling by examining the challenges faced by scientists trying to create artificial systems with the same behavioural capabilities.

As well as the reading list, three papers on current research issues will be given each week to be discussed in seminars. In addition, some papers which give you the flavour of the course are:

  • Shettleworth, S. Clever animals and killjoy explanations in comparative psychology
  • Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2010 Webb, B.
  • What does robotics offer animal behaviour? Animal Behaviour, 2000

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the meanings of the term 'intelligence', and an ability to critically evaluate experimental data and theoretical concepts in the field.
  • Synthesise research in animal cognition and the engineering of artificial intelligence, critically assess how these disciplines inform one another and evaluate the appropriateness of the methodologies used to do this.
  • Present a written account of specific aspects of the course subject matter based on independent reading of primary scientific and engineering literature, in the context of the wider reading of more general texts.
  • Develop and argue an original hypothesis that draws from the major themes of the course.