Abstract # 5891 Poster # 173:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 14, 2014 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 22 (Decatur B) Poster Presentation


VOLUNTARY COMPUTERIZED TESTING FOR STUDYING SOCIAL COGNITION IN A SPECIES-TYPICAL SOCIAL GROUP OF RHESUS MACAQUES (MACACA MULATTA)

R. A. Roberts1,2 and K. Wallen1,2
1Emory University, Department of Psychology, Suite 270, PAIS Building, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA, 2Yerkes National Primate Research Center
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     Typical approaches to studying social cognition of nonhumans involve removing individuals from home areas for testing and creating artificial testing pairs. However, removal for testing can be stressful for the animals and results obtained from artificial pairs may not reflect what would occur in a socially-naturalistic context. The present study uses a voluntary, touch-screen computer kiosk system (cooperation station) to assess cooperation and prosociality in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) living in a socially-naturalistic group at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. Sixty monkeys in an age-graded species-typical social group have continuous access to a cooperation station in their home enclosure. The station consists of two, interconnected touch-screen computers, pellet reward dispensers, and radiofrequency identification (RfID) readers. RfID chips in each wrist of each monkey are read by the reader on the cooperation station allowing monkeys to voluntarily “log-in” to the computers to participate. Rewards at one computer depend upon participation by another monkey at the adjacent computer. Tasks increase in difficulty, ultimately requiring monkeys to only participate when another monkey is present at the station, successfully cooperate to receive rewards, report knowledge of cooperative situations, and complete prosocial choice tests. The cooperation station offers a novel approach to studying complex social cognition in a socially-naturalistic environment, providing for the collection of large data sets while simultaneously reducing experiment-related stress and providing enrichment to the animals.