CogSci Colloquium Talk: Cognition and decision making in free-ranging dogs

Prof. Anindita Bhadra

Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata

Title: Cognition and decision making in free-ranging dogs
Date: Wednesday, 01st March 2023
Time: 04:00 pm (IST)
Meeting Link:

The dog is known as man’s best friend. A large repertoire of studies have focused on understanding the ability of pet dogs to comprehend and respond to human gestures, postures and language. In order to distinguish the abilities learned by dogs through their day to day interactions with humans since birth, and their innate abilities, comparative studies with hand reared captive wolves have been the standard practice until recently. The free-ranging/ stray dogs that live in most countries of the global south present an ideal model system to understand the innate abilities of dogs to understand humans. The Dog Lab has been engaged in studying the eco-ethology of free-ranging dogs in India, and I will present some examples of our work which shows that dogs on streets not only understand simple human gestures like pointing, threatening and friendly postures, etc, but are also able to adjust their own responses based on these perceptions. Humans play a key role in the social networks of dogs, and influence their behaviour significantly. This also puts the onus on us to behave responsibly towards these animals that share our ecosystem.

About the Speaker
Dr. Anindita Bhadra is a behavioural biologist at the Department of Biological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata. She is engaged in studying the behaviour, ecology, and cognitive abilities of dogs using the free-ranging /stray dogs in India as a model system. She is particularly interested in understanding the evolution of the dog-human relationship. Dr. Bhadra is the recipient of the INSA young scientist award, SERB women excellence award, IAP young scientist award and the Janaki Ammal National Women Bioscientist award Young category 2021. She was involved in the founding of the Indian National Young Academy of Science (INYAS) in 2014, and was the Chairperson of INYAS during its first three years of existence. She has been a member of the Global Young Academy since 2016, where she served as a Co-Chair during 2020-21. Anindita believes in the responsibility of a scientist in engaging with the society and is actively engaged in various science outreach activities, science diplomacy, and policy. She is currently the Associate Dean of International Relations and Outreach at IISER Kolkata. A mother of two, she is also a professional thespian and leads the Bangla theatre group mukhOsh with her husband.