Understanding the functional properties of tools: chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) attend to tool features differently

Gloria Sabbatini*, Valentina Truppa, Alenka Hribar, Barbara Gambetta, Josep Call, Elisabetta Visalberghi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We examined whether eight capuchins and eight chimpanzees were able to retrieve a reward placed inside a tube, of varying length, by selecting the correct stick from different sets of three sticks differing in length (functional feature) and handle (non-functional feature). Moreover, to investigate whether seeing the stick inside the tube (visual feedback) improves performance, half of the subjects were tested with a transparent apparatus and the other half with an opaque apparatus. Phase 1 included (a) Training 1 in which each stick had a different handle and (b) Transfer 1 in which the handles were switched among sticks, so that the functional tool had the same length but a different handle than before. The seven chimpanzees and one capuchin that passed Transfer 1 received Transfer 2. The other subjects received (a) Training 2, which used the same sticks from Phase 1 with handles switched in every trial, and (b) Transfer 2 in which the tube was longer, all sticks had the same new handle, and the formerly longest tool became intermediate in length. Eight chimpanzees and three capuchins passed Transfer 2. Results showed that (1) chimpanzees applied relational structures in tool using tasks more quickly than capuchins and (2) capuchins required more varied experience to attend to the functional feature of the tool. Interestingly, visual feedback did not improve performance in either species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-590
Number of pages14
JournalAnimal Cognition
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012

Keywords

  • Tool use
  • Functional features
  • Relational rules
  • Visual feedback
  • Primates
  • HUMANS HOMO-SAPIENS
  • CROWS CORVUS-MONEDULOIDES
  • CALEDONIAN CROWS
  • WILD CHIMPANZEES
  • SAGUINUS-OEDIPUS
  • MACACA-MULATTA
  • VISUAL-STIMULI
  • PONGO-PYGMAEUS
  • TASK
  • APES

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