Suddendorf, Corballis and Collier-Baker (Anim Cogn 12: 751–754, 2009) comment on a study on great ape foresight (Osvath and Osvath, Anim Cogn 11: 661–674, 2008). That study consisted of four experiments investigating foresight in chimpanzees and orangutans, examining in particular whether the planning they exhibit is best explained by assuming an episodic cognitive system. This system has widely been regarded as exclusive to humans. Indeed, the Bischof-Köhler hypothesis explicitly states that planning for a future need is outside the abilities of non-humans. In our paper, we argued that the results implied the presence of episodic abilities and challenged the Bischof-Köhler hypothesis. Suddendorf et al. are not ready to accept this claim. They critique each experiment in detail and maintain their view that episodic cognition is unique to humans. Here, I point out the misapprehensions and weaknesses in their critique notably a lack of appreciation for how the experiments in the study are interrelated and serve as controls for each other and for the baseline experiment. I reinforce my earlier conclusions with a number of recently published findings.
Foresight Planning Mental time travel The Bischof-Köhler hypothesis Episodic memory Great apes
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I thank Joel Parthemore, Tomas Persson and Caroline Raby for their valuable comments on the manuscript.
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