Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rhesus Monkeys Can Assess The Visual Perspective Of Others When Competing For Food

Date:
March 12, 2005
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Researchers Jonathan Flombaum and Dr. Laurie Santos, both from Yale University, have found that rhesus monkeys consider whether a competitor can or cannot see them when trying to steal food.

Macaque social group feeding.
Credit: Photo courtesy of California National Primate Research Center, UC Davis

Researchers Jonathan Flombaum and Dr. Laurie Santos, both from Yale University, have found that rhesus monkeys consider whether a competitor can or cannot see them when trying to steal food.

Working with semi-free-ranging rhesus monkeys on the island of Cayo Santiago in Puerto Rico, Flombaum and Santos set up a food competition game: Lone monkeys were approached by two human "competitors." Each competitor had a grape affixed to a platform by his feet. In each experiment, one of the competitors could see the monkey in front of them, but the other could not. For example, in Experiment 1, one of the competitors stood with his back to the monkey subject, while the other stood facing the subject. Monkeys in this experiment spontaneously chose to approach and steal a grape from only the competitor with his back toward the monkey. In five more experiments, the monkeys revealed similar preferences for an experimenter who could not see them, rather than one who could. Most notably, they reliably stole food from a competitor with only his eyes averted, rather than one facing perfectly forward, as well as an experimenter with a piece of cardboard over his eyes rather than one with cardboard over his mouth. Together, these results reveal not only that rhesus monkeys prefer to steal food from a competitor who cannot see them, but also that they know exactly how blocking or averting one's eyes can render one unable to see. Thus, even without any training, these monkeys were able to accurately consider the visual perspective of others when deciding from whom to steal.

In previous studies, rhesus monkeys (and other primates) were thought to do no more than merely follow the gaze of others. Primates have typically failed in other, noncompetitive experiments that require surmising what other individuals know or see from where they are looking. In one famous case, for example, rhesus monkeys were unable to find food under a hidden location when the human experimenter who hid the food preferentially looked at the hidden location. These results suggest that competition-like situations may bring out the primates' abilities more than experiments that don't involve competition.

These latest results, however, suggest that rhesus monkeys can do much more than just follow the gaze of others; they can also deduce what others see and know, based only on their perception of where others are looking. These data potentially push back the time during which our own abilities to "read the minds of others" must have evolved. Moreover, they suggest strongly a reason why these abilities may have evolved in the first place, namely for competitive interactions with others. Finally, these results lay the groundwork for investigating the neural basis for this kind of social reasoning in a readily available laboratory animal – an urgent endeavor for developing a better neural understanding of diseases such as autism, in which this kind of social reasoning appears impaired.

###

Jonathan I. Flombaum and Laurie R. Santos: "Rhesus Monkeys Attribute Perceptions to Others"

The other members of the research team include Jonathan I. Flombaum and Laurie R. Santos from Yale University. This research was supported by a National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship to J.I.F. and the Yale University Moore Fund grant to L.R.S. The Cayo Santiago Field Station was supported by the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Research Resources grant CM-5-P40RR003640-13 award to the Caribbean Primate Research Center) and the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus.

Publishing in Current Biology, Volume 15, Number 5, March 8, 2005, pages 447–452. http://www.current-biology.com


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Rhesus Monkeys Can Assess The Visual Perspective Of Others When Competing For Food." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 March 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050310102832.htm>.
Cell Press. (2005, March 12). Rhesus Monkeys Can Assess The Visual Perspective Of Others When Competing For Food. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050310102832.htm
Cell Press. "Rhesus Monkeys Can Assess The Visual Perspective Of Others When Competing For Food." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050310102832.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins