Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning

2012 Edition
| Editors: Norbert M. Seel

Intelligent Communication in Animals

  • Zhanna Reznikova
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1428-6_137



What can be called “intelligent communication” or “language behavior” in animals and how does it differ from communication? The term “communication” has a wide variety of meanings, which is of no wonder, since communication is a diverse and widespread phenomenon that serves as a substance of any social behavior. Most of the signals that animals send to one another communicate the intention, emotional state, or identity of the sender. In the great majority of signaling interactions animals influence others rather than inform them. The term “language behavior” usually refers to animal communication systems in which referential signals exist that can be compared with words in a human language. Some species use distinctive signals which seem to refer to definite external stimuli, for example, types of predators or kinds of food. If such signals provide receivers with sufficient information to...

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  1. Reznikova, Z. (2007a). Dialog with black box: Using information theory to study animal language behaviour. Acta Ethologica, 10(1), 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Reznikova, Z. (2007b). Animal intelligence: From individual to social cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Ryabko, B., & Reznikova, Z. (2009). The use of ideas of information theory for studying “language” and intelligence in ants. Entropy, 11, 836–853.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Further Reading

  1. Hauser, M. D., Chomsky, N., & Fitch, W. T. (2002). The faculty of language. What is it, who has it, and how did it evolve? Science, 298, 1569–1579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Rendall, D., Owren, M. J., & Ryan, M. J. (2009). What do animal signals mean? Animal Behaviour, 78, 233–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Seyfarth, R. M., & Cheney, D. L. (2003). Signallers and receivers in animal communication. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 145–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Behavioural Ecology of Animal CommunitiesInstitute of Systematics and Ecology of Animals, Siberian Branch RAS and Novosibirsk State UniversityNovosibirskRussia