Michael J. Beran, Ph.D.
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September 5, 2021



Beran, M. J., Decker, S., Schwartz, A., & Schultz, N. (2011). Monkeys (Macaca mulatta and Cebus apella) and human adults and children (Homo sapiens) enumerate and compare subsets of moving stimuli based on numerosity. Frontiers in Comparative Psychology, 2, Article 61.

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Two monkey species (Macaca mulatta and Cebus apella) and human children and adults judged the numerousness of two subsets of moving stimuli on a computer screen. Two sets of colored dots that varied in number and size were intermixed in an array in which all dots moved in random directions and speeds. Participants had to indicate which dot color was more numerous within the array. All species performed at high and comparable levels, including on trials in which the subset with the larger number of items had a smaller total area of coloration. This indicated a similarity across species to use the number of items in the subsets, and not dimensions such as area or volume, to guide decision making. Discrimination performance was constrained by the ratio between the subsets, consistent with other reports of numerousness judgments of stationary stimuli. These results indicate a similarity in numerical estimation ability for moving stimuli across primate species, and this capacity may be necessary for naturally occurring experiences in which moving stimuli must be summed.

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