Reaction to spatial novelty and exploratory strategies in baboons

Abstract

Exploratory activity was examined in 4 young baboons with the aim of investigating the type of spatial coding (purely geometric and/or by taking into account the identity of the object) used for the configuration of objects. Animals were individually tested in an outdoor enclosure for their exploratory reactions (contact time and order of spontaneous visits) to changes brought about to a configuration of different objects. Two kinds of spatial changes were made: a modification (1) of the shape of the configuration (by displacement of one object) and (2) of the spatial arrangement without changing the initial shape (exchanging the location of two objects). In the second experiment, the effect of a spatial modification of the global geometry constituted by four identical objects was investigated. Finally, in the third experiment, a substitution of a familiar object with a novel one was performed without changing the objects’ configuration. The baboons strongly reacted to geometrical modifications of the configuration. In contrast, they were less sensitive to modifications of local features that did not affect the initial spatial configuration. Analyses of spontaneous exploratory activities revealed two types of exploratory strategies (cyclic and back-and-forth). These data are discussed in relation to (1) the distinction between the encoding of geometric versus local spatial features and (2) the spatial function of exploratory activity.

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Correspondence to S. Gouteux.

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This research was supported by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and by the Ministère de l’Education Nationale, de l’Enseignement Supérieure et de la Recherche (Grant 97-5-03224). The authors thank P. Lucciani and all the staff of the Primatology Unit in Rousset (France). In addition, we thank E. Damerose, G. Ferreira, M. Steadt, and P. A. Stis for comments, suggestions, and assistance with the experiments and for useful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

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Gouteux, S., Vauclair, J. & Thinus-Blanc, C. Reaction to spatial novelty and exploratory strategies in baboons. Animal Learning & Behavior 27, 323–332 (1999). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03199731

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Keywords

  • Nonhuman Primate
  • Initial Configuration
  • Spatial Representation
  • Exploratory Activity
  • Familiar Object