Adam Miklosi

Associate Professor, Dept. of Ethology

Eötvös Loránd University
Budapest, AL

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Present Position: Head of the Department of Ethology at the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary

International fellowships: University of Sussex, England (2.5 years)

Current research interests

Recent molecular genetic analysis suggests that the domestication of dogs might have begun more than 15.000 years ago. Modern dogs are well adapted to live in small human groups (families). In our research we are looking for behaviour traits that might have contributed to the dogs' adaptation to a human social environment. In this sense dog behaviour can be thought of as a functional analogue to a wide range of human sociocognitive skills.

Over the years we have developed methods that measure attachment between dog and owner, and have shown parallels between dog and child attachment behaviour. We have investigated to what extent social learning plays a role in the transfer of information, that is, whether dogs are able to learn by observation from human demonstrators.

Our results have shown that both object manipulation and motor actions are learnt faster if dogs have the opportunity to observe a human demonstrator.

Further studies aim at investigating the mechanisms underlying communication between dog and owner. Despite evolutionary distance and morphological differences both dogs and humans perform at high levels in "reading" each others body gestures. In most of these experiments dogs outperform apes that show a more limited understanding of human communicative signals. Dogs are able to find hidden food based on signals emitted by a human, and they are also sensitive to the directionality of the signal. However dogs are not only passive receivers, they are able to send functionally referential signals about external events.

Fields of interest:

  • experimental analysis of behaviour
  • behaviour genetics and neuroethology
  • genetic basis of behavioural lateralisation
  • animal communication and social learning
  • humanethology, cognitive ethology For more information and downloadable publications see