Michael J. Beran, Ph.D.
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Last updated: 
September 1, 2021

 

 

Beran, M. J. (2007). Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) succeed on a computerized test designed to assess conservation of discrete quantity. Animal Cognition, 10, 37-45.

Conservation of quantity occurs through recognition that changes in the physical arrangement of a set of items do not change the quantity of items in that set. Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) were presented with a computerized quantity judgment task. Monkeys were rewarded for selecting the greater quantity of items in one of two horizontal arrays of items on the screen. On some trials, after a correct selection, no reward was given but one of the arrays was manipulated. In some cases, this manipulation involved moving items closer together or farther apart to change the physical arrangement of the array without changing the quantity of items in the array. In other cases, additional items were added to the initially smaller array so that it became quantitatively larger. Monkeys then made another selection from the two rows of items. Monkeys were sensitive to these manipulations, changing their selections when the number of items in the rows changed but not when the arrangement only was changed. Therefore, monkeys responded on the basis of the quantity of items, and they were not distracted by non-quantitative manipulations of the sets.

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