Abstract # 3205 Event # 56:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2011 04:00 PM-04:15 PM: Session 11 (Meeting Room 408)


PROMPTED RECALL AND INTERACTIVE COMMUNICATION ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT BY A CAPTIVE CHIMPANZEE (PAN TROGLODYTES)

C. R. Menzel and J. W. Kelley
Language Research Center, Georgia State Univ., Decatur, GA 30034, USA
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The ability of nonhuman primates to remember and communicate about objects that are displaced in space and time and completely out of view is less well understood than communication in social insects but potentially just as sophisticated. This study used human-initiated queries to study prompted recall and interactive communication in an adult female, symbol-competent chimpanzee, “Panzee.” We assessed whether Panzee could respond to several different types of prompts from her caregiver within the same reporting session. When queried “what is there?” by her caregiver’s manual pointing (a spatial prompt), Panzee reported the unique object type hidden in each designated, trial-unique location, even after 24-h retention intervals. When queried “where is x?” by lexigram and/or spoken English, Panzee directed her caregiver to the location containing object type x. When queried “what do you want?” by presentation of the lexigram keyboard, Panzee reported the available hidden object that had the highest expected value. The findings were statistically reliable [alpha = .05] and indicated that Panzee could recall events flexibly and report, on request, diverse features of events; she could distinguish between different types of queries and connect a human’s signals (lexigrams, English words) with distant objects in areas that were out of view. Humans are not the only animals that can discount their own preferences and communicate objective information about the environment. Supported by HD056352 and HD060563.