Michael J. Beran, Ph.D.
Curriculum Vitae

Journal Articles
Sites of Interest

Contact Me:  [email protected]

Last updated: 
September 1, 2021



Beran, M. J. (2011). Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) show the isolation effect during serial list recognition memory tests. Animal Cognition, 14, 637-645.

The isolation effect (or von Restorff effect) occurs when one item in a to-be-remembered list is distinctive from all remaining items, and memory for that item is enhanced. Four chimpanzees were presented with a serial list of four photographs. In the homogeneous condition, all list items were from the same semantic category (e.g., four fruits). In the isolate condition, three items were from the same category, but the fourth item (the isolate) was from a different category (e.g., three fruits and one toy). Then, two photographs were presented, and the chimpanzees had to select the one that was from the list. Two of four chimpanzees were significantly more likely to select a correct isolate item than an item from the same list position in the homogeneous condition for at least some list positions. This facilitation in performance was for isolate items only, as presenting an isolate item in a list did not facilitate greater recognition of other list items compared to the homogeneous condition. These results indicated that some chimpanzees perceived the semantic categories of the photographs, and categorization of photographs led to the isolation effect. Thus, chimpanzees may share with humans some aspects of memory organization that involve spontaneously categorizing visual stimuli and recognizing categorically unique stimuli.

Return to Top