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科学美国人60秒: 猫能识别自己的名字

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Cats Recognize Their Names—but May Not Respond

猫能识别自己的名字

Almost any cat owner will testify to the felines’ apparent indifference to humans when we call their names. But according to a recent study, cats do recognize their names—or at least that we are indeed addressing them. It’s just that they still may not respond.

几乎所有的猫主人都会证明,当我们叫猫的名字时,它们明显对人类漠不关心。但是根据最近的一项研究,猫确实能认出自己的名字——或者至少知道我们确实在叫它们。只是它们可能仍然没有回应。

“I think cats associate sounds of their names with some rewards or punishments.”

“我认为猫会把名字的发音和一些奖励或惩罚联系起来。”

Atsuko Saito, a behavioral scientist at Sophia University in Tokyo.

前田敦子·齐藤是东京上智大学的行为科学家。

Saito previously demonstrated that cats recognize their owners’ voices. In the new work, she and colleagues investigated the reactions of cats to hearing humans say their names. The study included 78 cats from Japanese households and from a “cat café,” a business where patrons can interact with felines.

齐藤早前证明猫能识别主人的声音。在这项新研究中,她和同事们调查了猫听到人类叫它们的名字时的反应。这项研究包括78只来自日本家庭和“猫咖啡馆”的猫,顾客可以在这里与猫互动。

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Saito and her colleagues had owners say four words that sounded similar to their cats’ names until the animals habituated to those words and stopped responding. Next, the owners said the felines’ actual names. And indeed, the cats had more pronounced responses—moving their ears, heads, tails or meowing—than they did to similar words or to other cats’ names. The study is in the journal Scientific Reports.

齐藤和她的同事让猫的主人说四个听起来和猫的名字相似的词,直到猫习惯了这些词,不再回应。接下来,主人说出了猫的真实名字。事实上,猫对类似的词语或其他猫的名字做出的反应更明显——它们会动耳朵、摇头、摇尾巴或喵喵叫。这项研究发表在《科学报告》杂志上。

The researchers also had people unfamiliar to the cats speak the names. Although the felines’ responses were less prominent than when their owners called them, they still appeared to recognize the words when spoken by strangers. But does that mean the cats know they are being called by name?

研究人员还让不熟悉猫的人说出猫的名字。尽管猫咪的反应没有主人叫它们时那么明显,但它们似乎还是能认出陌生人说的话。但这是否意味着这些猫知道自己的名字?

“There is no evidence that cats have the ability to recognize themselves, like us. So the recognition about their names is different from ours.” But Saito says she thinks we might be able to teach cats to recognize other words in addition to their names. “Our colleagues are investigating whether cats recognize other cohabiting cats’ names.”

没有证据表明猫有像我们一样识别自己的能力。所以对名字的认识和我们的不同。但齐藤说,她认为我们或许能够教会猫除了名字之外,还能识别其他的单词。“我们的同事正在调查猫是否能认出其他同居猫的名字。”

Could this knowledge mean that humans could eventually train cats to respond to voice commands, the way dogs do? Purr-haps.

这一发现是否意味着人类最终能够像狗一样训练猫对语音指令做出反应呢?Purr-haps(或许吧)。

Cats Recognize Their Names—but May Not Respond

Almost any cat owner will testify to the felines’ apparent indifference to humans when we call their names. But according to a recent study, cats do recognize their names—or at least that we are indeed addressing them. It’s just that they still may not respond.

“I think cats associate sounds of their names with some rewards or punishments.”

Atsuko Saito, a behavioral scientist at Sophia University in Tokyo.

Saito previously demonstrated that cats recognize their owners’ voices. In the new work, she and colleagues investigated the reactions of cats to hearing humans say their names. The study included 78 cats from Japanese households and from a “cat café,” a business where patrons can interact with felines.

Saito and her colleagues had owners say four words that sounded similar to their cats’ names until the animals habituated to those words and stopped responding. Next, the owners said the felines’ actual names. And indeed, the cats had more pronounced responses—moving their ears, heads, tails or meowing—than they did to similar words or to other cats’ names. The study is in the journal Scientific Reports.

The researchers also had people unfamiliar to the cats speak the names. Although the felines’ responses were less prominent than when their owners called them, they still appeared to recognize the words when spoken by strangers. But does that mean the cats know they are being called by name?

“There is no evidence that cats have the ability to recognize themselves, like us. So the recognition about their names is different from ours.” But Saito says she thinks we might be able to teach cats to recognize other words in addition to their names. “Our colleagues are investigating whether cats recognize other cohabiting cats’ names.”

Could this knowledge mean that humans could eventually train cats to respond to voice commands, the way dogs do? Purr-haps.


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