The Benefit of Symbols: Monkeys Show Linear, Human-Like, Accuracy When Using Symbols to Represent Scalar Value
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CitationLivingstone, Margaret S., Krishna Srihasam, and Istvan A. Morocz. 2010. The benefit of symbols: Monkeys show linear, human-like, accuracy when using symbols to represent scalar value. Animal Cognition 13(5): 711-719.
AbstractWhen humans and animals estimate numbers of items, their error rate is proportional to the number. To date, however, only humans show the capacity to represent large numbers symbolically, which endows them with increased precision, especially for large numbers, and with tools for manipulating numbers. This ability depends critically on our capacity to acquire and represent explicit symbols. Here we show that when rhesus monkeys are trained to use an explicit symbol system, they too show more precise, and linear, scaling than they do using a one-to-one corresponding numerosity representation. We also found that when taught two different types of representations for reward amount, the monkeys systematically undervalued the less precise representation. The results indicate that monkeys, like humans, can learn alternative mechanisms for representing a single value scale and that performance variability and relative value depend on the distinguishability of each representation.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:4745733
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