Abstract # 4225 Event # 128:

Scheduled for Friday, June 22, 2012 04:45 PM-05:00 PM: Session 20 (Camellia ) Oral Presentation


ASSOCIATION BETWEEN COGNITIVE TEST PERFORMANCE AND DISPOSITION TO AROUSAL IN CHIMPANZEES (PAN TROGLODYTES) AND GORILLAS (GORILLA GORILLA GORILLA)

K. E. Wagner and S. R. Ross
Lincoln Park Zoo, Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, 2001 N. Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60614, USA
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     Self-directed behavior (SDB) has been linked to increased arousal throughout the primate order and across diverse contexts. This relationship has been especially well explored among great apes in the acute context of cognitive tests, during which arousing events, such as low task performance and increased cognitive effort, are highly associated with frequent SDB bouts. Despite potential causal interactions between arousal and performance, insufficient attention has focused on examining this relationship from a broader perspective, using a global assessment of SDB - which may indicate certain persistent parameters of disposition. Here, eight zoo-living chimpanzees and gorillas were tested on a computerized serial order learning task in daily 30-trial sessions. Subjects progressed to higher order lists using a standard performance criterion. A performance mean for each subject was calculated across sessions for each list length. Frequency of rough scratching-type SDB outside of the testing context was assessed as a part of a long-term behavioral monitoring program. Chimpanzees demonstrated a negative association between scratching rates and performance in the two- and three-item sequencing tasks (2-item: R=0.795, p=0.02; 3-item: R=0.809, p<0.05). Gorilla performance indicated no such relationship for any list-length (2-item: R=0.372, p=0.36; 3-item: R=0.334, p=0.42). Results suggest that disposition to arousal may predict cognitive performance in species-specific ways, potentially emerging from differences in attentional, cognitive and physiological profiles.