News & AnalysisAnimal Cognition

Can Animals Envision the Future? Scientists Spar Over New Data

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Science  24 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6135, pp. 909
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6135.909

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A pair of Australian researchers who coined the phrase mental time travel (MTT), using past memories to construct visions of the future that may never come true, maintained that MTT is unique to humans. They laid down strict criteria for proving that animals can also do it, which they insisted had never been met even by the cleverest nonhuman species. Now, one of those scientists is jumping ship, saying that the behavioral tests for MTT that the pair concocted may be too strict.