Abstract # 14:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2012 02:15 PM-02:30 PM: Session 4 (Camellia ) Oral Presentation


RHESUS MACAQUES (MACACA MULATTA) EAVESDROP ON INTERACTIONS IN WHICH EXPERIMENTERS SHARE FOOD WITH COLONY ROOMMATES

A. F. Hamel1 and M. A. Novak2
1University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Neuroscience and Behavior Graduate Program, 135 Hicks Way, Amherst, MA 01003, USA, 2Psychology Department, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 135 Hicks Way, Amherst, MA, 01003, USA
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     Previously, we demonstrated that rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) have the ability to eavesdrop on interactions between human actors. Monkeys distinguished between experimenters based on information presented during brief social exchanges. This ability is valuable because it allows observers to gain important information, such as dominance rank or the formation of alliances, that can be embedded in third-party interactions. Our aim was to assess whether rhesus monkeys could obtain information from interactions between humans and a familiar conspecific. Nine rhesus monkeys (3 males) were presented with two short interactions during which experimenters shared either a desirable treat or an undesirable piece of chow with a monkey in the colony room. Food-sharing roles, performed by two female experimenters, were randomized across trials. Following the presentation of the interactions, the observing monkey was allowed to request a reward from one of the food-sharers and was rewarded with the type of food (treat or chow) shared by the selected experimenter during the interaction phase. After a total of twenty sessions, subjects expressed a significant preference for requesting a reward from an experimenter that be been observed sharing a treat (Binomial probability: p<0.001). These data demonstrate that laboratory housed rhesus macaques eavesdrop on interactions between humans and conspecifics, suggesting that experimenters and caretakers should consider conspecific observers when interacting with non-human primates in a colony room.