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Kuhlmeier / Poster

Scale Model Comprehension by Chimpanzees

Valerie Kuhlmeier, The Comparative Cognition Project, Dept. of Psychology, The Ohio State University Chimpanzee Center, Columbus, OH 43210.

     Using a procedure modeled after studies with children, the ability of chimpanzees to recognize the similarity between a scale model and its full-size referent was demonstrated. After watching an experimenter hide a miniature bottle of juice in one of four hiding sites in a scale model of a play area, subjects, particularly females, were able to find a real bottle of juice hidden in the analogous location in the enclosure. A subsequent study investigated whether chimpanzees' performance on the scale model task was the result of mapping the correspondence between individual objects in the model and its referent, or whether they understood the spatial/relational similarity between the entire model and the full-size space. Recognition of spatial/relational similarity was tested in an experiment in which individual object cues offered no critical information about the location of the hidden juice. A third experiment examined the influence of both spatial and object similarity by systematically varying position (spatial cues) and the color and shape of the sites (object cues). The results suggest that the chimpanzees are able to recognize both the object and spatial/relational similarities between a scale model and its referent, but under some conditions, the salience of individual object cues may interfere with the detection of spatial similarity.