Animal Cognition

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 437–449 | Cite as

From colour photographs to black-and-white line drawings: an assessment of chimpanzees’ (Pan troglodytes’) transfer behaviour

  • James Close
  • Josep Call
Original Paper


Over two experiments, we investigated the ability of two adolescent and two adult chimpanzees to generalise a learnt, pictorial categorisation to increasingly degraded and abstract stimuli. In Experiment 2, we further assessed the ability of the adolescent chimpanzees to engage in open-ended categorisation of black-and-white line drawings. The current results confirmed and extended previous findings, showing that sub-adult chimpanzees outperform adult chimpanzees in the categorisation of pictorial stimuli, particularly when the stimuli are more degraded and abstract in nature. However, none of the four chimpanzees showed positive transfer of their category learning to a set of black-and-white line drawings, and neither of the adolescent chimpanzees evidenced reliable open-ended categorisation of the black-and-white line drawings. The latter findings suggest that both sub-adult and adult chimpanzees find it difficult to recognise black-and-white line drawings, and that open-ended categorisation of black-and-white line drawings is challenging for chimpanzees.


Categorisation Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytesGeneralisation Line drawings Picture recognition 



The authors wish to thank Charlotte Rahn and the B-Chimpanzee keepers of Zoo Leipzig for their help in conducting the present experiments. James Close further wishes to thank the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) for its support during his time at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Supplementary material

10071_2014_813_MOESM1_ESM.tif (11 kb)
Fig. S1 Human participants’ mean percentage of correct responses (- STD) to the black-and-white line drawings of Set 1 (Test 1) and Set 2 (Test 2) (TIFF 11 kb)
10071_2014_813_MOESM2_ESM.tif (8 kb)
Fig. S2 Human participants’ mean rating of similarity (+ STD) between the two classes of black-and-white line drawings for Set 1 (Test 1) and Set 2 (Test 2) (TIFF 8 kb)
10071_2014_813_MOESM3_ESM.doc (38 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOC 34 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Developmental and Comparative PsychologyMax Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.School of Psychology and NeuroscienceUniversity of St AndrewsFifeUK

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