The evolution of primate short-term memory

Many Primates, Manon Schweinfurth, Amanda Seed, Elizabeth Warren, Josep Call, Géraud Aguenounon, Matthias Allritz, Drew M. Altschul, Sébastien Ballesta, Alice Beaud, Manuel Bohn, Sally L. Bornbusch, Angela Brandão, James Brooks, Thomas Bugnyar, Léa Bustamante, Charlotte Canteloup, Chuangshi Cao, Kai R. Caspar, Diana da Silva, Alexandra A. de Sousa, Sarah E. DeTroy, Shona Duguid, Timothy M. Eppley, Claudia Fichtel, Julia Fischer, Chi Gong, James A. Grange, Nicholas M. Grebe, Daniel Hanus, Daniel Haun, Lou M. Haux, Yseult Héjja - Brichard, Annabella Helman, Istvan Hernadi, R. Adriana Hernandez - Aguilar, Esther Herrmann, Lydia M. Hopper, Lauren H. Howard, Lei Huang, Sarah M. Huskisson, Ivo Jacobs, Zhiyong Jin, Marine Joly, Fumihiro Kano, Stefanie Keupp, Evelin Kiefer, Balázs Knakker, Katalin Kóczán, Larissa Kraus, Sze Chai Kwok, Marie Lefrançois, Laura Lewis, Siyi Liu, Miquel Llorente, Elizabeth Lonsdorf, Louise Loyant, Katarzyna Majecka, Luke Maurits, Hélène Meunier, Flávia Mobili, Luca Morino, Alba Motes - Rodrigo, Vincent Nijman, Caroline Nkoy Ihomi, Tomas Persson, Dariusz Pietraszewski, Juan Felipe Reátiga Parrish, Anthony Roig, Alejandro Sánchez - Amaro, Yutaro Sato, Gabriela - Alina Sauciuc, Allie E. Schrock, Caroline L. Shearer, Vedrana Šlipogor, Yanjie Su, Kirsten Sutherland, Jingzhi Tan, Derry Taylor, Camille A. Troisi, Christoph Völter, Pauline Zablocki - Thomas

Short-term memory is implicated in a range of cognitive abilities and is critical for understanding primate cognitive evolution. To investigate the effects of phylogeny, ecology and sociality on short-term memory, we tested the largest and most diverse primate sample to date (421 non-human primates across 41 species) in an experimental delayed-response task. Our results confirm previous findings that longer delays decrease memory performance across species and taxa. Our analyses demonstrate a considerable contribution of phylogeny over ecological and social factors on the distribution of short-term memory performance in primates; closely related species had more similar short-term memory abilities. Overall, individuals in the branch of Hominoidea performed better compared to Cercopithecoidea, who in turn performed above Platyrrhini and Strepsirrhini. Interdependencies between phylogeny and socioecology of a given species presented an obstacle to disentangling the effects of each of these factors on the evolution of short-term memory capacity. However, this study offers an important step forward in understanding the interspecies and individual variation in short-term memory ability by providing the first phylogenetic reconstruction of this trait’s evolutionary history. The dataset constitutes a unique resource for studying the evolution of primate cognition and the role of short-term memory in other cognitive abilities.

Department für Funktionelle und Evolutionäre Ökologie, Department für Verhaltens- und Kognitionsbiologie, Department für Neurowissenschaften und Entwicklungsbiologie
Animal Behavior and Cognition
ÖFOS 2012
106012 Evolutionsforschung, 106051 Verhaltensbiologie
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