Double invisible displacement understanding in orangutans: testing in non-locomotor and locomotor space
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The nonadjacent double invisible displacement task has been used to test for the ability of different species to mentally represent the unperceived trajectory of an object. The task typically requires three occluders/boxes in a linear array and involves hiding an object in one of two nonadjacent boxes visited in succession. Previous research indicates that 19-, 26-, and 30-month-old children and various nonhuman species cannot solve these displacements. It has been hypothesized that this is because individuals are unable to inhibit searching in the unbaited center box that was never visited by the experimenter. It has been suggested that presenting the task in a large-scale locomotor space might allow individuals to overcome this inhibition problem. In the present study, we tested orangutans on adjacent and nonadjacent double invisible displacements with the traditional setup (experiment 1) and in locomotor space with boxes placed 1.22 m apart (experiment 2). In both experiments, subjects were able to solve adjacent, but not nonadjacent, trials. The failure on nonadjacent trials appeared to be because of an inability to inhibit sequential search on the second choice as well as because of a large number of first-choice errors (directly choosing an incorrect box). The current results support previous findings that orangutans exhibit some constraints when representing the invisible trajectory of objects.
KeywordsObject permanence Orangutans Adjacent invisible displacements Nonadjacent invisible displacements
We would like to thank the primate care staff at Zoo Atlanta. We would also like to thank the associate editor and reviewers for comments that greatly improved this manuscript. This research complied with protocols approved by Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees at Zoo Atlanta and Georgia Institute of Technology and adhered to the legal requirements of the USA.
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