Change detection is commonly used to assess capacity (number of objects) of human visual short-term memory (VSTM). Comparisons with the performance of non-human animals completing similar tasks have shown similarities and differences in object-based VSTM, which is only one aspect (“what”) of memory. Another important aspect of memory, which has received less attention, is spatial short-term memory for “where” an object is in space. In this article, we show for the first time that a monkey and pigeons can be accurately trained to identify location changes, much as humans do, in change detection tasks similar to those used to test object capacity of VSTM. The subject’s task was to identify (touch/peck) an item that changed location across a brief delay. Both the monkey and pigeons showed transfer to delays longer than the training delay, to greater and smaller distance changes than in training, and to novel colors. These results are the first to demonstrate location-change detection in any non-human species and encourage comparative investigations into the nature of spatial and visual short-term memory.
Change detection Visual short-term memory Working memory Monkey Pigeon
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Support for this research was provided by NIH Grant MH-072616 (A. A. Wright). This research was conducted following the relevant ethics guidelines for research with animals and was approved by UTHSC’s institutional IACUC.
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