The impact of symbolic representations on chimpanzee cognition
Boysen (Sarah T.)
Source: Hurley (Susan) & Nudds (Matthew) - Rational Animals?
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

Two decades of studies with chimpanzees from the Comparative Cognition Project at the Ohio State University Chimpanzee Center suggest that the enculturation process, including the immersion of chimps in an artifact- and symbol-laden human culture and long-term, stable social relationships with human beings, affects the animals' access to attentional resources in dramatic ways. Such changes, in turn, can facilitate acquisition of complex cognitive skills by the chimpanzees and/or override behavioural predispositions that would reduce their capacity to comprehend task demands and respond 'rationally' to them. We here survey recent findings on:

  1. The effects of numerals on chimps' evaluative dispositions;
  2. The effects of numerals and symbols for 'same' and for 'different' in reaction time tasks; and
  3. The abilities of some (female) chimps to employ scale models and other representations of location to solve problems.
  1. Introduction
  2. Evaluative processes and symbolic representations
    … 2.1 Summary of earlier work with candy arrays and with numeral arrays
  3. Processing of quantity across object arrays and numerical symbols: Do mixed stimuli evoke the interference and facilitation effects?
    … 3.1 Mixed candy-numeral array experiment: design and methods
    … 3.2 Results from previous feasibility study with mixed arrays
    … 3.3 Results from mixed candy-numeral array experiment
  4. Replication of original interference and symbolic facilitation results with unmixed arrays
  5. Mechanisms of quantity judgment and evaluative processing
    … 5.1 Background and motivation
    … 5.2 Same-different experiment with numerals: design and methods
    … 5.3 Results
  6. Problem-solving by chimpanzee using a scale model and photographic representations of location
    … 6.1 Background and motivation
    … 6.2 Scale model experiment: Design and methods
    … 6.3 Results and discussion
    … 6.4 Further experiments: individual differences in use of scale models
  7. Conclusion


Part VI: Behaviour and cognition in symbolic environments, Chapter 22

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