The role of pre-experience in problem-solving comparing four great ape species (Pan troglodytes, Pan paniscus, Pongo abelii, Gorilla gorilla) (#618)
Many nonhuman primates in captivity are very keen on exploring objects in their environment. However, few studies have investigated if nonhuman primates gain information in a non-rewarded situation that can later be used once conditions change. Active testing of the effects that an object can have on another may be especially important in enhancing problem-solving abilities in future situations. In this study, four great ape species were confronted with the collapsible platform task (Bird & Emery 2009, von Bayern et al. 2009). This task required subjects to drop a stone inside a tube to collapse a platform that released a reward. Subjects received four successive sessions with the baited apparatus and four with an empty apparatus counterbalanced for order of presentation across subjects. Seventy-six percent of the apes solved the task. Apes which had pre-experience with the empty condition were faster in the baited condition than apes without this pre-experience. This study suggests that apes exposed to an empty apparatus prior to the test gain information that is later used to solve problems in a more efficient manner.
- Bird, CD; Emery, NJ (2009). Insightful problem solving and creative tool modification by captive nontool-using rooks. PNAS, 106(25):10370-10375.
- von Bayern, AMP; Heathcote, RJP; Rutz, C; Kacelnik, A (2009). The role of experience in problem solving and innovative tool use in crows. Curr Biol, 19(22), 1965-1968.