Faculté des sciences

Spatial relational memory in 9-month-old macaque monkeys

Lavenex, Pierre ; Lavenex, Pamela Banta

In: Learning & Memory, 2006, vol. 13, p. 84-96

This experiment assesses spatial and nonspatial relational memory in freely moving 9-mo-old and adult (11-13-yr-old) macaque monkeys (Macaca mulatta). We tested the use of proximal landmarks, two different objects placed at the center of an open-field arena, as conditional cues allowing monkeys to predict the location of food rewards hidden in one of two sets of three distinct locations.... Plus

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    Summary
    This experiment assesses spatial and nonspatial relational memory in freely moving 9-mo-old and adult (11-13-yr-old) macaque monkeys (Macaca mulatta). We tested the use of proximal landmarks, two different objects placed at the center of an open-field arena, as conditional cues allowing monkeys to predict the location of food rewards hidden in one of two sets of three distinct locations. Monkeys were tested in two different conditions: (1) when local visual cues marked the two sets of potentially baited locations, so that monkeys could use both local and spatial information to discriminate these locations from never-baited locations; and (2) when no local visual cues marked the two sets of potentially baited locations, so that monkeys had to rely on a spatial relational representation of the environment to discriminate these locations. No 9-mo-old or adult monkey associated the presence of the proximal landmarks, at the center of the arena, with the presence of food in one set of three distinct locations. All monkeys, however, discriminated the potentially baited locations in the presence of local visual cues, thus providing evidence of visual discrimination learning. More importantly, all 9-mo-old monkeys tested discriminated the potentially baited locations in absence of the local visual cues, thus exhibiting evidence of spatial relational learning. These findings indicate that spatial memory processes characterized by a relational representation of the environment are present as early as 9 mo of age in macaque monkeys.