Sunday, May 24, 2015

Animals Make Us Human

_Animals Make Us Human:  Creating the Best Life for Animals_ by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson
NY:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009
ISBN 978-0-15-101489-7

Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships:  Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism by Temple Grandin and Sean Barron
Future Horizons, November 1, 2005;  ISBN-10: 193256506X;  ISBN-13: 978-1932565065

Developing Talents: Careers For Individuals With Asperger Syndrome And High-functioning Autism by Temple Grandin with Kate Duffey
Autism Asperger Publishing Company; Updated, Expanded Edition edition, November 1, 2008;  ISBN-10: 1934575283:  ISBN-13: 978-1934575284

(3)  My theory is that the environment animals live in should activate their positive emotions as much as possible, and not activate their negative emotions any more than necessary.  If we get the animal's emotions right, we will have fewer problem behaviors....

Emotions come first.

(4)  Focus on the emotion, not the behavior....

A stereotypy is an abnormal repetitive behavior (ARB for short), such as a lion or tiger pacing back and forth in its cage for hours on end.

(6)  SEEKING:  Dr. [Jaak] Panksepp says SEEKING is "the basic impulse to search, investigate, and make sense of the environment."
[Affective Neuroscience:  The Foundations of Human and Animals Emotions (NY:  Oxford University Press, 1998)]

(7)  RAGE:  Dr. Panksepp believes that the core emotion of RAGE evolved from the experience of being captured and held immobile by a predator.  Stimulation of subcortical brain areas causes an animal to go into a rage.

(8)  FEAR:  the Fear system doesn't need a lot of explanation.  Animals and humans feel FEAR when their survival is threatened in any way, from the physical to the mental and social.  The FEAR circuits in the subcortex of the brain have been fully mapped.  Destruction of the amygdala, the brain's fear center, turns off fear....

Panic:  Panic is Jaak's word for the social attachment system.  All baby animals and humans cry when their mothers leave, and an isolated baby whose mother does not come back is likely to become depressed and die.  The PANIC system probably evolved from physical pain....

(9)  He [Panksepp] calls these three [more positive] emotions "more sophisticated special-purpose socioemotional systems that are engaged at appropriate times in the lives of all mammals."

LUST:  LUST means sex and sexual desire.

CARE:  CARE is Dr. Panksepp's term for maternal love and caretaking.

PLAY:  PLAY is the brain system that produces the kind of roughhousing play all young animals and humans do at the same stage in their development.  The parts of the brain that motivate PLAY are in the subcortex.  No one understands the nature of playing or the PLAY system in the brain well yet, although we do know that play behavior is probably a sign of good welfare, because an animal that's depressed, frightened, or angry doesn't play.  The PLAY system produces feelings of joy.

(13)  This [experience with barren environment pigs and abnormal overgrowth of dendrites in the somatosensory cortex] is where my belief came that it is so important to satisfy the SEEKING system to prevent abnormal brain development.

(23)  The rule is simple:  Don't stimulate RAGE, FEAR, and PANIC if you can help it, and do stimulate SEEKING and also PLAY.  Provide environments that will keep the animal occupied and prevent the development of stereotypies.

(58)  Don't go toward a dangerous dog face-to-face, and never make eye contact.  Primates like face-to-face introductions;  dogs don't.

(72)  The only way to train a wild animal is to use positive reinforcement.  Positive reinforcement means rewarding the animal for doing the things you're training it to do.

(104)  But now that researchers understand dopamine and the SEEKING system better, the way we think about rewards is changing.  What's rewarding about rewards isn't so much the reward item itself, but the time you spend looking forward to it.  In some ways, chasing after things is more fun than actually getting them.

(115)  It is really important to recognize the behavioral and physical signs of fear.  A fearful horse switches his tail.  As he becomes more scared, the tail moves faster.  Other signs are a high head, sweating when there is little physical exertion, and quivering skin.  A really frightened horse gets bugged-out eyes and the whites show. 

(128)  Every time a parent yells at a child for doing something bad and the child stops doing whatever he's doing, that is negative reinforcement.  The kid's behavior is painful for the parent and yelling makes the painful thing _stop_, which makes yelling more likely to happen in the future because it got results.  Yelling has been reinforced by the kid stopping what he's doing.  But then, because the parent yells so much, the kid starts to habituate to yelling.  He gets used to it.  The kid stops responding to being yelled at, so the parent yells louder, and then the kid does respond. That reinforces the parent for yelling louder, and the kid habituates to the louder yelling and so on.

(129)  Turning on the SEEKING system is a good thing to do when you're training any animal or person, but it may be the most powerful with high-fear prey animals.

(131) When the animal learns to learn, it starts to _offer behavior_.  That's what behaviorists call it.  It'll intentionally run through all kinds of different behaviors looking for one that will work.

Karen Pryor says animals that have learned to learn start to feel like they're training the person, not vice versa.  They know they can figutre out a way to make the trainer give them treats....

Even though the teacher or psychologist has created an environment that "controls" the person's behavior through positive reinforcement, the person doesn't feel like he's being controlled, probably because he is getting reinforced for behaviors he didn't "have" to do.  The authors say:  "The behavior is likely to be reported as having been the product of an autonomous decision to act.  Subjectively, behaviors that are followed by pleasing consequences are likely to be verbally described as those that we 'like' to or 'choose' to engage in."

(132)  Animals trained using positive reinforcement learn faster, too.  If you put a horse in a maze and let him find his way out through trial and error he'll finish faster than a horse who gets a shock when he makes a wrong turn.  Paul McGreevy says, "Punishment can stifle creativity and impede a horse's innate problem-solving skills."

(138)  Herd animals seem to make decisions about movement democratically.  Red deer move when 62 percent of the herd has stood up, not when one "leader deer" has gotten up and signaled everyone else to move.

(142)  According to Dr. [Jeffrey] Gray, who is at the Institute of Psychology at King's College in London, fears fall into one of five categories:
high-intensity stimuli
special "evolutionary dangers"
socially learned fears
learned fears that are acquired when a neutral person, thing, or situation is associated with something bad
novel stimuli

(145)  According to Dr. [Peter] Milner, the brain's default setting is:  If nothing is investigated, nothing is gained.  If animals or people can't predict whether an action will have a good result or a bad one, they go ahead and perform the action.  New things are always unpredictable, so I conclude that animals and people are programmed to pay attention to and explore new things.

(166)  Another obstacle is that to be a good stockperson you have to recognize that an animal is a conscious being that has feelings, and some people don't want to think of animals that way.  This is true of researchers and veterinarians as well as stockpeople.

(169-170)  The equipment I design is all behaviorally based;  it will work only if you're handling the cattle properly.

This is a very difficult concept to get across.  People adopt new handling equipment much more quickly than they adopt the behavioral principles they need to make a piece of equipment work...  I get twice as many orders for $55 books on how to build corrals and races as I do for $59 videotapes on the principles of good stockmanship.  People think buying the technology is all they need to do.

(173)  Candace Croney and Stan Curtis at Pennsylvania State University made an indestructible video game joystick by attaching a car gearshift to a standard game controller inside a very sturdy box.  (It had to be strong so the pigs wouldn't chew it up before they learned to play.)
NB:  Video games for pigs which they kept playing even when the treat reward feeder broke

(177)  Dr. Panksepp says that SEEKING inhibits fear, so if you reduce opportunities for SEEKING, you're likely to increase the sensitivity of the FEAR system.

(180)  Work with the animal's natural behavior:  That message has to be repeated over and over again.

(190-191)  There is such a thing as "human nature," and managers should think about stockpeople and themselves the way animal ethologists think about animals:  as conscious beings who predictably follow the rules of behavior for their species.  Instead of relying purely on short-term training programs and employee willpower, managers should start thinking like ethologists and expert trainers.

The most important thing an effective manager needs to do to stay on top of his own behavior is to guard against desensitization to the animals' fear and panic.

(191)  The first thing an effective manager must do to take care of the animals is get rid of employees who are bullies.  I've seen many times that there is always one ringleader for really nasty cruelty to animals.  It's the same principle as playground bullying, where there is often one leader and the rest of the kids go along.  Take away the leader, and the bullying stops.  On a farm or in a meat plant, the ringleader must be either fired or reassigned to a nonanimal job.  He should not be working with animals....

A good manager creates an environment that reinforces good behavior by employees.  The basic principle is:  Make the environment work for you, not against you.  Never leave up to willpower and self-discipline what you can do with environment.

(197)  Dr. Hemsworth says that to change behavior you need to do three things:
Change the beliefs that underlie the behavior.
Change the behavior itself.
Maintain the changed attitudes and behavior.

(203)  I discovered that when I gave out lots of information I got more consulting jobs than I could handle.  I gave the designs away free and made a living by charging for custom designs and consulting.

(219-220)  The rapist roosters violently attack hens and injure and even kill them.  Before the 1990s there weren't any rapist roosters.  They just suddenly appeared out of the blue.  First it was just one strain of roosters that had become aggressive but within a couple of years almost all strains had developed the same behavior.  Nobody knows why.

The rapist roosters have two problems:  They are hyper-aggressive _and_ they have stopped doing the courtship dance the hens need to see before she will mate.  They've lost the little piece of genetic code that makes them do the dance.  When the hens don't see the courtship dance, they don't become sexually receptive, which may make the roosters' aggresson worse.  An unreceptive hen would be a form of frustration because it is a restraint on the rooster's action.  So the RAGE system would be activated to some degree....

Ian Duncan has an interesting theory about what might have happened.  Dr. Duncan points out that big-breasted male birds have trouble mating because their huge chests get in the way.  Male turkeys have such big breasts now that they can't mate at all and the hens have to be artificially inseminated.

(223)  When a welfare situation deteriorates too slowly for workers and management to notice, the new bad situaiton seems normal.  Sometimes it takes an outsider coming in to make people realize that 5 or 6 percent broken wings on broilers or half-bald laying hens are definitely not normal...

Records can be falsified, so I put the major emphasis on things I can see myself such as broken wings, bruises, and breast blisters (when chickens lie in wet bedding, they get ammonia burns on their breasts and legs).

(243)  My theory is that savant-type skills occur when memories are sensory-based instead of language-based.  Language leads to abstractification and loss of detail.  Animals naturally lack language and autistic people have language problems because of a disorder, but in autistic people and animals the cause of sensory-based memory is the same:  thinking and remembering in pictures instead of words.  It is definitely possible to have episodic memory in pictures instead of words.  I have many visual memories of specific events.

(254)  Touch helps the eye to perceive accurately.  Oliver Sacks desctribes a person who was blind and regained vision as an adult.  To understand the meaning of things he saw with his eyes, he had to touch the objects he was looking at.  I believe that there is something fundamental about the nervous system that prevents the computer mouse from being connected to the brain the same way touch is.  Touching and feeling objects are essential for accurate perception.

(260)  There's a famous book called The Logic of Failure, by Dietrich Dorner, about what happens when people try to manage complex systems.  Dr. Dorner is a German psychologist who did a lot of computer simulation studies where he had experts manage complex systems he created.

(267)  That's because the only animals that have full color vision are primates and birds.  All the rest have dichromatic vision, which means that they see two main colors - bluish purple and yellowish green - and they don't see red.  Anything yellow in the environment will "pop";  they'll notice it right away.

(277)  Polar bears are one of the farthest-ranging animals we know of.  They travel five and a half miles a day and are fantastic swimmers that can swim for hours at a time. The longest polar bear swim a scientist has recorded is two hundred miles.

(300)  Since people are responsible for breeding and raising farm animals, they must also take the responsibility to give the animals living conditions that provide a decent life and a painless death.