Abstract # 82:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 17, 2006 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 8 (Regency West 1/3 ) Poster Presentation

Individual differences in performance across object permanence and discrimination learning testing in infant rhesus macaques (M. mulatta).

H. K. Sidhu1,2, M. K. Unkefer1,2, C. I. Kenney1, A. Ruggiero1, S. J. Suomi1 and M. S. Novak1
1NIH-NICHD-LCE NIH Animal Center, P.O. Box 529, Poolesville, MD 20837, USA, 2Northern Virginia Community College, Loudoun Campus
     Piagetian Object permanence (OP) procedures and the Wisconsin General Test Apparatus (WGTA) can both be used in nonhuman primates to measure the learning/cognitive ability of an infant early in development. Infants exhibit similar behaviors pushing or pulling an object and receiving a food treat, however, they are thought to test different processes in the developing infant. OP testing focuses on comprehending an occluded object’s existence or permanence, WGTA focuses on different forms of discrimination learning. In addition, animals were held during object permanence testing and were not restrained at all for the WGTA series; object permanence testing typically begins at an earlier age than WGTA; and, the criterion behaviors differ for the two test series (80% across 2 days versus 90% on 1 day). However, the question has been raised as to whether they test the same or different cognitive and/or emotional capabilities of an infant. In 9 infant rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta), we compared the number of sessions to reach criterion across tests. There was a negative correlation between the number of sessions it takes to reach criterion for adapting to object permanence and adapting to the WGTA testing [r(7)=-0.73; p=0.025]. However, for most testing the performance on the two tasks was unrelated, suggesting both test different capabilities of an infant. Research supported by intramural research program of the NICHD at the NIH.