Scientific Info on Animal/Human Communication

This is an essay written by a scientific friend  to explain animal communication. What do you think?  Please leave a comment.

We, humans have vocalizations or speech as well as writing.


We can think and remember things in the past, present, and future. To elaborate on this, two types of memory that we have are retrospective memory and prospective memory. Retrospective memory which is, that we all know about are, past information such as phone numbers or recalling childhood memories. On the other hand, prospective memory or intentions you remember and execute in the future such as remembering to buy milk on the way home and actually stopping at the grocery store and buying milk in transit from work to home.

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How do humans communicate with animals? Do they understand our language? Scientific facts that you will find interesting.

These two types of memories are lacking in nonhuman species because they cannot remember or pursue something in the future. In other words, no past or future, only present.

We have a larger portion of our brain called association cortices other than the four primary cortices: frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital cortices.

The association cortices include most of the cerebral surface of the human brain and are largely responsible for the complex processing that goes on between the arrival of input in the primary sensory cortices and the generation of behavior. The diverse functions of the association cortices are referred to as “cognition,” which literally means the process by which we come to know the world. More specifically, cognition refers to the ability to attend to external stimuli or internal motivation, to identify the significance of such stimuli, and to plan meaningful responses to them. Given the complexity of these tasks, it is not surprising that the association cortices receive and integrate information from a variety of sources, and that they influence a broad range of cortical and subcortical targets. Inputs to the association cortices include projections from the primary and secondary sensory and motor cortices, the thalamus, and the brainstem. Outputs from the association cortices reach the hippocampus, the basal ganglia and cerebellum, the thalamus, and other association cortices. Insight into how the association areas work has come primarily from observations of human patients with damage to one or another of these regions. Noninvasive brain imaging of normal subjects, functional mapping at neurosurgery, and electrophysiological analysis of comparable brain regions in nonhuman primates have generally confirmed these clinical impressions. Together, these studies indicate that, among other functions, the parietal association cortex is especially important for attending to complex stimuli in the external and internal environment, that the temporal association cortex is especially important for identifying the nature of such stimuli, and that the frontal association cortex is especially important for planning appropriate behavioral responses to the stimuli. (


We have prefrontal cortex as well as premotor cortex, also. We grow bilaterally, so we have an open circuit while animals have a closed circuit and can only think or do in the present tense. No past or future in animals.

About animals, they have closed circuits such that they know the present condition and surroundings as well as to avoid danger. But they cannot formulate complex sentences or higher intellect that we know. More specifically, I am speaking about primates such as chimpanzees. Their limit of words they can have is of that of three year-old humans.


I heard that from my psychology professor. Concerning lower forms such as dogs or cats, it will be less. Why closed circuit is because animals cannot expand their communication signals to encompass newer things such as bombs that are man-made and not ingrained or well-known to them. So the use of “language” is not good in talking about animals.


Paul Kim

You will enjoy listening to our radio show on human/animal communciation at Lots of great podcasts and listen and call in on Thursday afternoons at 5pm EST.  You will be glad you did.

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