Quantity judgments of sequentially presented food items by capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella)

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Abstract

Recent assessments have shown that capuchin monkeys, like chimpanzees and other Old World primate species, are sensitive to quantitative differences between sets of visible stimuli. In the present study, we examined capuchins' performance in a more sophisticated quantity judgment task that required the ability to form representations of food quantities while viewing the quantities only one piece at a time. In three experiments, we presented monkeys with the choice between two sets of discrete homogeneous food items and allowed the monkeys to consume the set of their choice. In Experiments 1 and 2, monkeys compared an entirely visible food set to a second set, presented item-by-item into an opaque container. All monkeys exhibited high accuracy in choosing the larger set, even when the entirely visible set was presented last, preventing the use of one-to-one item correspondence to compare quantities. In Experiment 3, monkeys compared two sets that were each presented item-by-item into opaque containers, but at different rates to control for temporal cues. Some monkeys performed well in this experiment, though others exhibited near-chance performance, suggesting that this species' ability to form representations of food quantities may be limited compared to previously tested species such as chimpanzees. Overall, these findings support the analog magnitude model of quantity representation as an explanation for capuchin monkeys' quantification of sequentially presented food items.

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