Great apes' performance in discriminating weight and achromatic color

Cornelia Schrauf*, Josep Call

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Much work has been done on visual discrimination in primates over the past decade. In contrast, very little is known about the relevance of non-visual information in discrimination learning. We investigated weight and achromatic color (color, henceforth) discrimination in bonobos, gorillas and orangutans, using the exchange paradigm in which subjects have to give objects to the experimenter in order to receive a reward. Unlike previous studies, subjects were not trained to lift objects because lifting the objects was an integral part of the exchange procedure. This methodology also allowed us a direct comparison between visual and weight discrimination. We presented 12 subjects (5 bonobos, 2 gorillas and 5 orangutans) with two sets of objects corresponding to two conditions. The objects in the color condition (white/black) differed only in color and those in the weight condition (light/heavy) differed only in weight. Five apes learned to discriminate weight and six to discriminate color. Subjects learned color discrimination faster than weight discrimination. Our results suggest that bonobos and orangutans are sensitive to differences in weight and able to learn discriminating objects that differ in this property.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-574
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Cognition
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009

Keywords

  • Discrimination learning
  • Kinesthetic perception
  • Weight discrimination
  • CHIMPANZEES PAN-TROGLODYTES
  • GORILLA-GORILLA
  • HUE DISCRIMINATION
  • PONGO-PYGMAEUS
  • FOOD
  • MONKEYS
  • FUTURE
  • PANISCUS
  • EXCHANGE
  • TOOLS

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