Representation of serial order in monkeys (Cebus apella)

J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 1988 Apr;14(2):131-9.


Cebus monkeys were trained on a five-item serial learning task, symbolized as ABCDE; the initial stages of training were on the shorter subseries AB, ABC, and ABCD. To assess the monkeys' knowledge of the sequential position of each item, pair-wise tests were given to 2 subjects after acquisition of the ABCD series and to 4 subjects after reaching criterion on the ABCDE series. In both tests, the monkeys performed at high levels on the interior pairs, which were BC for the ABCD series, and BC, BD, and CD for the ABCDE series. These results, as well as the orderly relations observed in the pair-wise tests between first-item response latency and first-item position and between second-item response latency and number of missing items, indicated that the monkeys had developed a well-organized internal representation of the four- and five-item series. Although pigeons are also capable of learning four-item and five-item series, they apparently do not develop a comparable representational structure. The disparity between the monkeys' and pigeons' representational competence for serial order is predictable from the difference in their capacities for associative transitivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association Learning*
  • Cebidae*
  • Cebus*
  • Conditioning, Operant
  • Female
  • Form Perception*
  • Learning*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Serial Learning*