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

 

 

Harris, E. H., Gulledge, J. P., Beran, M. J., & Washburn, D. A. (2010). What do Arabic numerals mean to macaques? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 36, 66-76.

In the past, rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) have demonstrated an ability to use Arabic numerals to facilitate performance in a variety of tasks. However, it remained unclear whether they understood the absolute and relative values of numerals. In Experiment 1, numeral-trained macaques picked the larger stimuli when presented with pairwise comparisons involving numerals and analog quantities. In Experiment 2, macaques were provided with numeral cues indicating the number of times a behavior could be performed in one location for a reward. Of the 4 monkeys, 3 performed above chance, but they often erred by performing more behaviors than indicated. The results of these studies indicate that the monkeys have knowledge of the approximate quantities represented by each numeral.

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