Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chimpanzees and orangutans remember distant past events

Date:
July 18, 2013
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
We humans can remember events in our lives that happened years ago, with those memories often surfacing unexpectedly in response to sensory triggers like flavor or scent. Now, researchers have evidence to suggest that chimpanzees and orangutans have similar capacities. In laboratory tests, both primate species were clearly able to recollect a tool-finding event that they had experienced just four times three years earlier and a singular event from two weeks before, the researchers show.

Humans can remember events that happened years ago, with those memories often surfacing unexpectedly in response to sensory triggers like flavor or scent. Now, new evidence suggests that chimpanzees and orangutans have similar capacities.
Credit: mrahmo / Fotolia

We humans can remember events in our lives that happened years ago, with those memories often surfacing unexpectedly in response to sensory triggers: perhaps a unique flavor or scent. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on July 18 have evidence to suggest that chimpanzees and orangutans have similar capacities. In laboratory tests, both primate species were clearly able to recollect a tool-finding event that they had experienced just four times three years earlier and a singular event from two weeks before, the researchers show.

Related Articles


It seems we have more in common with our primate cousins than we thought, specifically when it comes to our autobiographical memories, the researchers say.

"Our data and other emerging evidence keep challenging the idea of non-human animals being stuck in time," says Gema Martin-Ordas of Aarhus University in Denmark. "We show not only that chimpanzees and orangutans remember events that happened two weeks or three years ago, but also that they can remember them even when they are not expecting to have to recall those events at a later time."

The chimpanzees and orangutans in the study could also distinguish between similar past events in which the same tasks, locations, and people were involved, she adds. "This is a crucial finding since it implies that our subjects were able to bind the different elements of very similar events -- including task, tool, experimenter. This idea of 'binding' has been considered to be a crucial component of autobiographical memories."

When presented with a particular setup, chimpanzees and orangutans instantaneously remembered where to search for tools and the location of a tool they had seen only once. The researchers note in particular the complexity and speed of the primates' recall ability.

"I was surprised to find out not only that they remembered the event that took place three years ago, but also that they did it so fast!" Martin-Ordas says. "On average it took them five seconds to go and find the tools. Again this is very telling because it shows that they were not just walking around the rooms and suddenly saw the boxes and searched for the tools inside them. More probably, it was the recalled event that enabled them to find the tools directly."

She says the new findings are just the beginning of a completely new line of research on memories for past events in non-human animals.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Gema Martin-Ordas, Dorthe Berntsen, Josep Call. Memory for Distant Past Events in Chimpanzees and Orangutans. Current Biology, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.017

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Chimpanzees and orangutans remember distant past events." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130718130613.htm>.
Cell Press. (2013, July 18). Chimpanzees and orangutans remember distant past events. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130718130613.htm
Cell Press. "Chimpanzees and orangutans remember distant past events." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130718130613.htm (accessed December 17, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

AP (Dec. 16, 2014) More departments are ordering their first responders to sit in on training sessions that focus on how to more effectively interact with those with autism spectrum disorder (Dec. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Newsy (Dec. 12, 2014) A study out of Britain suggest men are more idiotic than women based on the rate of accidental deaths and other factors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

AFP (Dec. 12, 2014) As the countdown to Christmas gets underway, so too does the Father Christmas conspiracy. But psychologists say that telling our children about Santa, flying reindeer and elves is good for their imaginations. Duration: 01:57 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


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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