Cognitive Mechanisms for Transitivity in Rhesus Monkeys (Macaca mulatta) Open Access

Chee, Nicholas Walter (2011)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/rx913q091?locale=en
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Abstract

Abstract
Cognitive Mechanisms for Transitivity in Rhesus Monkeys (Macaca mulatta)
By Nicholas W. Chee

Knowing that Ben is taller than Emily and Emily is taller than Dina, one can infer that Ben is
taller than Dina. This is called transitive inference (TI). In TI experiments, subjects are trained
with adjacent overlapping pairs of discriminations that create an implicit order (e.g. if A+B- and
B+C- then A+C-). TI is evaluated with never-before-seen non-adjacent pairs of stimuli from the
implicit order (e.g. AC). Often subjects select the higher ranked item, suggesting logical
inference. However, because nonhuman subjects are reinforced with food during training,
individual stimuli may acquire associative values consistent with the implicit order that control
choice behavior in a way that mimics inference. We assessed the contribution of logical
inference and associative strength to performance of rhesus monkeys on a TI test. We
manipulated associative values in a within-subjects experimental design by rewarding some
choices with 2 food pellets and others with 1 pellet. This manipulation was presented in two
conditions: in the congruent condition, associative values were consistent with the implicit order
(e.g. A was rewarded with two pellets, D was rewarded with one); in the incongruent condition,
associative values conflicted with the order of the implicit order (e.g. D was rewarded with two
pellets, A with one). We found that when differences in reinforcement are salient, associative
values exert significant control over choice behavior.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Introduction ......................................................................................................................................1
Methods............................................................................................................................................8
Results and Discussion .......................................................................................................................12
Conclusion .......................................................................................................................................21
References ......................................................................................................................................22

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