15th May 2012, 10:04am
Bang Goes the Theory – Lincoln experts called in by BBC 1
Prof Mills with Dallas Campbell, Liz Bonnin and Skye BBC 1’s popular science programme Bang Goes the Theory called upon the expertise of University of Lincoln’s animal behaviour team for its latest episode, which aired last night (14 May).

Professor Daniel Mills and Dr Anna Wilkinson, who are both globally-respected authorities in their fields, worked with the show’s production team to devise a one-day challenge to explore theories around the intelligence of dogs.

Three dogs of different breeds came with their owners to the University’s Riseholme campus to meet up with the Lincoln team and show presenters Dallas Campbell and Liz Bonnin.

Professor Mills explained the reasons behind the instructions, reminding the owners that dogs don’t interpret people’s actions the same way we do. After all receiving the training sessions, the dogs went head to head in the specially-devised challenges.

Professor Mills said: “The BBC team wanted us to devise a task that would be informative but could be done in a day. We chose relative quantity as we know that dogs have some of the underpinning behind this concept. The owners learnt how they might be able to teach the dogs a quantity discrimination of ‘more than’ and ‘less than’. We also hoped to show that dogs can generalise learning, meaning that the learning isn’t context specific but that the dog can apply a principle to a new situation.

“We were keen to show that good science can also be fun.”

In addition to the main programme, the Bang team are encouraging people to see if their dog can pass the ‘blue dot challenge’.  University animal behaviour expert, Sian Ryan, along with Riley the dog, show how to test a dog’s sense of self in an extra item which can be found on the Bang Goes the Theory website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00sg641

Bang Goes the Theory presenter, Dallas Campbell, said recently: “Basically, we tell the stories of science. Science is sometimes a word that can send people running for the hills, which is a shame, because ultimately science is what underpins the world around us – and you certainly don’t need to be a scientist to be interested in that.”

The programme can be viewed on iplayer here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01hkyhp/Bang_Goes_the_Theory_Series_6_Episode_8/

During the visit to the Riseholme campus the Bang team also took great interest in Dr Anna Wilkinson’s award-winning research into reptilian cognition. They filmed an impromptu piece with Anna which now features on the BBC website: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00sckmy
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