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Transfer of a Serial Representation between Two Distinct Tasks by Rhesus Macaques

Jensen, Greg Guichard; Altschul, Drew; Danly, Erin; Terrace, Herbert

Do animals form task-specific representations, or do those representations take a general form that can be applied to qualitatively different tasks? Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) learned the ordering of stimulus lists using two different serial tasks, in order to test whether prior experience in each task could be transfered to the other, enhancing performance. The simultaneous chaining paradigm delivered rewards only after subjects responded in the correct order to all stimuli displayed on a touch sensitive video monitor. The transitive inference paradigm presented pairs of items and delivered rewards when subjects selected the item with the lower ordinal rank. After learning a list in one paradigm, subjects’ knowledge of that list was tested using the other paradigm. Performance was enhanced from the very start of transfer training. Transitive inference performance was characterized by ‘symbolic distance effects,’ whereby the ordinal distance between stimuli in the implied list ordering was strongly predictive of the probability of a correct response. The patterns of error displayed by subjects in both tasks were best explained by a spatially coded representation of list items, regardless of which task was used to learn the list. Our analysis permits properties of this representation to be investigated without the confound of verbal reasoning.

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Academic Units
Psychology
Publisher
Public Library of Science
Published Here
December 2, 2016
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