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Information Processing in Animals

Aug 20, 2022
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Introduction: 

their surroundings. These structures are known as sensory receptors or sensory organs. 

We have studied the five senses and the organs associated with them, which help animals to analyze their surroundings. 

Animals have different external and internal structures that help them receive information about  

Explanation: 

The sensory receptors gather information and send it to the brain. The brain is an internal organ located inside the skull. It helps process this information and come up with a response.  

The brain of an animal allows it to respond to sensory information in different ways. Animals use their perception and memories in order to guide their actions. Perception is when information is sent to the brain and processed immediately. Some information sent to the brain is processed and stored as a memory. 

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Structure of a brain

We know that animals exhibit two types of behavior. One is present from birth which includes the instincts. For example, ducklings follow their mother. And the other, which is learned with experience. For example, a squirrel gets food from a bird feeder. 

An animal’s brain decides how it behaves in response to its environment. The sensory receptor receives information about the surroundings and sends a signal to the brain. The brain processes this information and signals the animal how to respond. 

Stimulus and response 

Animals responding to a sense of sight: 

A deer feeding on a plant 

    

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When an animal sees a plant and eats it, the information is quickly sent to the brain. This information is processed and stored inside the brain. Now, when the animal comes across the same plant, it will immediately start feeding on it. 

When an animal sees a predator, the information is sent to the brain. The brain immediately processes this information and sends a signal to the animal to escape. The animal responds to this signal by running away from the predator. 

Similarly, when an animal sees its prey, the information is sent to the brain. The brain immediately processes this information and sends a signal to the animal to chase the prey. The animal responds to this signal by running toward its prey. 

Animals responding to a sense of sound: 

When an animal hears its predator approaching, the information is sent to its brain. The brain immediately processes this information and sends a signal to the animal to hide or escape. The animal responds to this signal by hiding or running away from the predator. For example, a rabbit hiding from its predator. 

Similarly, when an animal hears its prey, the information is transmitted from the ears to the brain. The brain immediately processes this information and sends a signal to the animal to search the prey. The animal responds to this signal by searching for its prey. 

Animals also respond to sounds like mating calls. Animals produce different sounds for different purposes. For example, a frog produces a variety of calls which include mating calls, calls to establish territory, calls to scare away predators, etc. These calls are analyzed by other frogs, and they respond accordingly. For example, a female frog, upon hearing mating calls, finds the male frog in order to mate. Whereas if a frog hears a territorial call from another frog, it moves away. 

A rabbit hiding from its predator

Animals responding to a sense of smell: 

Animals have a higher sense of smell compared to humans. They can smell their predators, prey, food, mates, etc. When an animal smells food, it responds to this stimulus by going in the direction of food. 

Animals can identify their babies, mates, etc., by their sense of smell. The smell of their young ones or mates is stored in their memory by their brain. This helps them to protect their mates and young ones from danger. 

Animals can identify their prey by the sense of smell. When they smell their prey, they immediately start searching for it. 

Whereas when animals smell their predators, they find a place to hide or run away from them. 

Dogs sniffing for food

Animals responding to other senses: 

Like humans, animals can also identify food by tasting it. This information is stored in the brain and helps the animal to decide which plant is edible and which is non-edible. Based on this information, animals decide which plant to feed on or which animal to prey on. 

Animals can feel the change in temperature by the sense of touch. When the animals feel the heat of the day, they seek shelter in the shade or remain underground. When the temperature is cool enough, they come out again to find food, water, etc. 

Animals also use the sense of touch in social groups. For example, a parent animal cuddling its baby. 

A group of deer seeking shelter in the shade

Brain and spinal cord: 

Like sensory receptors, animals also have specialized cells that bring the signal from the brain to the part of the body of the animal which is used in the response. For example, when an animal hears its predator approaching, it will send this information to the brain. The brain will process this information and create a response, i.e. in this case, to run. This response will be transferred to the special cells present in the limbs of the animal; this will enable the animal to run away. 

The brain stem connects the brain to the spinal cord. The spinal cord sends messages from the brain down to the rest of the body. The spinal cord is filled with specialized cells that transmit information to various parts of the body. 

 Brain and spinal cord 

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