Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Video Samples (Jon Cohen) - How Smart Are Chimps?

Jon Cohen video (click image)

This video link with "video concept list" was found via ALCHEssMIST page - How Smart Are Chimps? - Video by Jon Cohen. The clip is made up of video samples from a 2008 primate research conference where the extraordinary short-term memory ability of chimps was demonstrated.

Calculated Reciprocity Amongst Sumatran Orang-utans (Pongo pygmaeus abelii)

Sumatran Orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus abelii)
[Photo by cykocurt flickr Creative Commons]

This interesting study has shown for the first time that it is not only humans who can calculate the value of gifts and what would be considered to be of equal value in return (calculated reciprocity). Two orang-utans (a male called Bim and a female called Dok) from Leipzig Zoo were studied regarding calculated reciprocity using tokens which were only of value to the opposite orang-utan. These swapped tokens could then be exchanged with the experimenters for food. The article appeared in Royal Society journal Biology Letters (abstract here).
Calculated reciprocity after all: computation behind token transfers in orang-utans
V Dufour, M Pelé, M Neumann, B Thierry and J Call.
Biol. Lett. (23 April 2009) 5 (2); 172-175

Transfers and services are frequent in the animal kingdom. However, there is no clear evidence in animals that such transactions are based on weighing costs and benefits when giving or returning favours and keeping track of them over time (i.e. calculated reciprocity). We tested two orang-utans (Pongo pygmaeus abelii) in a token-exchange paradigm, in which each individual could exchange a token for food with the experimenter but only after first obtaining the token from the other orang-utan. Each orang-utan possessed tokens valuable to their partner but useless to themselves. Both orang-utans actively transferred numerous tokens (mostly partner-valuable) to their partner. One of the orang-utans routinely used gestures to request tokens while the other complied with such requests. Although initially the transfers were biased in one direction, they became more balanced towards the end of the study. Indeed, data on the last three series produced evidence of reciprocity both between and within trials. We observed an increase in the number and complexity of exchanges and alternations. This study is the first experimental demonstration of the occurrence of direct transfers of goods based on calculated reciprocity in non-human-primates.
Author Affiliations:
  • School of Psychology, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9JP, UK
  • Département of Ecologie, Physiologie & Ethologie, IPHC, CNRS, Université Louis Pasteur de Strasbourg, 67087 Cedex, France
  • Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 01403 Leipzig, Germany

Mirror Neurons in Rhesus Macaque Monkeys (Science, 2009)

Rhesus Macaque Monkeys:

Mirror neurons are neurons which fire both when an animal acts and also when the animal observes the same action undertaken by another animal. These neurons thus mirror the action of another animal as if the observer had performed the action itself. This article from Science (17 April 2009, pp 403-6) sheds further light on the actions of mirror neurons (abstract here).
Mirror Neurons Differentially Encode the Peripersonal and Extrapersonal Space of Monkeys
Vittorio Caggiano, Leonardo Fogassi, Giacomo Rizzolatti, Peter Thier, Antonino Casile1
Science 17 April 2009: Vol. 324. no. 5925, pp. 403 - 406
DOI: 10.1126/science.1166818

Actions performed by others may have different relevance for the observer, and thus lead to different behavioral responses, depending on the regions of space in which they are executed. We found that in rhesus monkeys, the premotor cortex neurons activated by both the execution and the observation of motor acts (mirror neurons) are differentially modulated by the location in space of the observed motor acts relative to the monkey, with about half of them preferring either the monkey's peripersonal or extrapersonal space. A portion of these spatially selective mirror neurons encode space according to a metric representation, whereas other neurons encode space in operational terms, changing their properties according to the possibility that the monkey will interact with the object. These results suggest that a set of mirror neurons encodes the observed motor acts not only for action understanding, but also to analyze such acts in terms of features that are relevant to generating appropriate behaviors.
[Photo by Fowler&fowler cropped]

Welcome To My Animal Cognition Blog

This blog will focus mostly on animal cognition.