Comparing the non-linguistic hallmarks of episodic memory systems in corvids and children

08 Dec 2017

Much of the debate over whether food-caching corvids possess an episodic memory system — comparable to that of humans — has focussed on these birds’ memories for what was cached, where and when. Here, we highlight that corvids also exhibit a number of other behaviours that could potentially be considered non-linguistic hallmarks of an episodic-memory system, including the ability to produce rich, flexible representations of various past events, and to prepare for specific events in the future in a number of different ways. Direct comparisons of these experiments are beginning to emerge with young children. These studies allow us to determine whether performance on episodic-like memory tasks follows a similar developmental trajectory to performance on other measures of episodic memory. Here, we discuss some of the similarities and differences between the minds of corvids and children that have emerged from this research to date.