Sequential responding and planning in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella)
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Previous experiments have assessed planning during sequential responding to computer generated stimuli by Old World nonhuman primates including chimpanzees and rhesus macaques. However, no such assessment has been made with a New World primate species. Capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) are an interesting test case for assessing the distribution of cognitive processes in the Order Primates because they sometimes show proficiency in tasks also mastered by apes and Old World monkeys, but in other cases fail to match the proficiency of those other species. In two experiments, eight capuchin monkeys selected five arbitrary stimuli in distinct locations on a computer monitor in a learned sequence. In Experiment 1, shift trials occurred in which the second and third stimuli were transposed when the first stimulus was selected by the animal. In Experiment 2, mask trials occurred in which all remaining stimuli were masked after the monkey selected the first stimulus. Monkeys made more mistakes on trials in which the locations of the second and third stimuli were interchanged than on trials in which locations were not interchanged, suggesting they had already planned to select a location that no longer contained the correct stimulus. When mask trials occurred, monkeys performed at levels significantly better than chance, but their performance exceeded chance levels only for the first and the second selections on a trial. These data indicate that capuchin monkeys performed very similarly to chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys and appeared to plan their selection sequences during the computerized task, but only to a limited degree.
KeywordsPlanning Capuchin monkeys Cebus apella Computer testing Sequence learning
This research was supported by National Science Foundation grant BCS—0924811 and National Institutes of Health Grant HD—060563 and a Georgia State University Brains and Behavior Graduate Fellowship to AEP. We thank Ted Evans and Bonnie Perdue for their assistance in conducting the experimental sessions with the monkeys, and for reading earlier versions of this paper.
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