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Reaching around barriers: the performance of the great apes and 3-5-year-old children.

Vlamings PH, Hare B, Call J - Anim Cogn (2009)

Bottom Line: We compared the inhibitory skills of all great ape species, including 3-5-year-old children in a detour-reaching task, which required subjects to avoid reaching directly for food and instead use an indirect reaching method to successfully obtain the food.As expected older children outperformed younger children.Sanctuary chimpanzees and bonobos outperformed their zoo counterparts whereas there was no difference between the two orangutan samples.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, Leipzig, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Inhibitory control has been suggested as a key predictive measure of problem-solving skills in human and nonhuman animals. However, there has yet to be a direct comparison of the inhibitory skills of the nonhuman apes and their development in human children. We compared the inhibitory skills of all great ape species, including 3-5-year-old children in a detour-reaching task, which required subjects to avoid reaching directly for food and instead use an indirect reaching method to successfully obtain the food. We tested 22 chimpanzees, 18 bonobos, 18 orangutans, 6 gorillas and 42 children. Our sample included chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans housed in zoos (N = 27) and others housed in sanctuaries in their native habitats (N = 37). Overall, orangutans were the most skilful apes, including human children. As expected older children outperformed younger children. Sanctuary chimpanzees and bonobos outperformed their zoo counterparts whereas there was no difference between the two orangutan samples. Most zoo chimpanzees and bonobos failed to solve the original task, but improved their performance with additional training, although the training method determined to a considerable extent the level of success that the apes achieved in a transfer phase. In general, the performance of the older children was far from perfect and comparable to some of the nonhuman apes tested.

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Mean percentage (+SEM) of correct trials as a function of species in “Experiment 3”
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Fig5: Mean percentage (+SEM) of correct trials as a function of species in “Experiment 3”

Mentions: Figure 5 presents the percentage of correct trials for each species housed at the sanctuaries. Contrary to our expectations, species did not differ significantly in their ability to obtain the reward (Kruskal–Wallis test: χ2 = 1.69; df = 2; P = 0.43). Similarly, there were no significant sex (Mann–Whitney test: Z = 0.91; P = 0.36) or age differences (Spearman r = −0.002; P = 0.99; N = 37). However, we found important individual differences. One bonobo, two orangutans, and no chimpanzees got the reward more often than would be expected by chance (at least 9 out of 10 times). Furthermore, three bonobos, two orangutans and four chimpanzees got the reward in the first trial. Only one bonobo and one orangutan solved the problem on the first trial and were above chance in the whole session.Fig. 5


Reaching around barriers: the performance of the great apes and 3-5-year-old children.

Vlamings PH, Hare B, Call J - Anim Cogn (2009)

Mean percentage (+SEM) of correct trials as a function of species in “Experiment 3”
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2822225&req=5

Fig5: Mean percentage (+SEM) of correct trials as a function of species in “Experiment 3”
Mentions: Figure 5 presents the percentage of correct trials for each species housed at the sanctuaries. Contrary to our expectations, species did not differ significantly in their ability to obtain the reward (Kruskal–Wallis test: χ2 = 1.69; df = 2; P = 0.43). Similarly, there were no significant sex (Mann–Whitney test: Z = 0.91; P = 0.36) or age differences (Spearman r = −0.002; P = 0.99; N = 37). However, we found important individual differences. One bonobo, two orangutans, and no chimpanzees got the reward more often than would be expected by chance (at least 9 out of 10 times). Furthermore, three bonobos, two orangutans and four chimpanzees got the reward in the first trial. Only one bonobo and one orangutan solved the problem on the first trial and were above chance in the whole session.Fig. 5

Bottom Line: We compared the inhibitory skills of all great ape species, including 3-5-year-old children in a detour-reaching task, which required subjects to avoid reaching directly for food and instead use an indirect reaching method to successfully obtain the food.As expected older children outperformed younger children.Sanctuary chimpanzees and bonobos outperformed their zoo counterparts whereas there was no difference between the two orangutan samples.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, Leipzig, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Inhibitory control has been suggested as a key predictive measure of problem-solving skills in human and nonhuman animals. However, there has yet to be a direct comparison of the inhibitory skills of the nonhuman apes and their development in human children. We compared the inhibitory skills of all great ape species, including 3-5-year-old children in a detour-reaching task, which required subjects to avoid reaching directly for food and instead use an indirect reaching method to successfully obtain the food. We tested 22 chimpanzees, 18 bonobos, 18 orangutans, 6 gorillas and 42 children. Our sample included chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans housed in zoos (N = 27) and others housed in sanctuaries in their native habitats (N = 37). Overall, orangutans were the most skilful apes, including human children. As expected older children outperformed younger children. Sanctuary chimpanzees and bonobos outperformed their zoo counterparts whereas there was no difference between the two orangutan samples. Most zoo chimpanzees and bonobos failed to solve the original task, but improved their performance with additional training, although the training method determined to a considerable extent the level of success that the apes achieved in a transfer phase. In general, the performance of the older children was far from perfect and comparable to some of the nonhuman apes tested.

Show MeSH