Abstract # 183:

Scheduled for Friday, August 18, 2006 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 17 (Regency West 1/3 ) Poster Presentation

A Capuchin Monkey Learns to Navigate

T. Pickering, E. H. Kennedy, B. von Ammon, N. Scott, D. Fragaszy and J. Wintje
University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
     The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether a capuchin monkey (Cebus apella) learns to navigate mazes that require attention to multiple features, and thus shed light on the cognitive and developmental capabilities of non-human primates. If the monkey learns to evaluate concurrent and sometimes conflicting features in advance of acting, the pattern of errors will shift across replications. One capuchin monkey, Leo, was given 192 two-dimensional digital mazes that were completed eight times in replicates. Mazes contained one to five binary choices including zero to three “non-obvious” choices (where the incorrect path was in the Euclidean direction of the goal). After each replicate, we presented a subset of twenty-four mazes to assess variables that we hypothesize reflect Leo’s attention to the relevant spatial relations in this task. By some measures Leo’s performance improved. From the second to the eighth replicate he showed a 45.3% decrease on overall errors, which included a 33.0% decrease on non-obvious choices. In the same period he also increased the percentage of overall self-corrects (reversing movement down an incorrect path) on errors, indicating that he learned to look more consistently toward the end of the current path. These findings suggest that with practice Leo improved his attention to relevant features of the spatial task. Supported by HD38051 to Georgia State University