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Object-based attention in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

Ushitani, T., Imura, T., & Tomonaga, M.

We conducted three experiments to investigate how object-based components contribute to the attentional processes of chimpanzees and to examine how such processes operate with regard to perceptually structured objects. In Experiment 1, chimpanzees responded to a spatial cueing task that required them to touch a target appearing at either end of two parallel rectangles. We compared the time involved in shifting attention (cost of attentional shift) when the locations of targets were cued and non cued. Results showed that the cost of the attentional shift within one rectangle was smaller than that beyond the object's boundary, demonstrating object-based attention in chimpanzees. The results of Experiment 2, conducted with different stimulus configurations, replicated the results of Experiment 1, supporting that object-based attention operates in chimpanzees. In Experiment 3, the cost of attentional shift within a cued but partly occluded rectangle was shorter than that within a rectangle that was cued but divided in the middle. The results suggest that the attention of chimpanzees is activated not only by an explicit object but also by fragmented patches represented as an object at a higher-order perceptual level. Chimpanzees' object-based attention may be similar to that of humans.

Vision Research (2010), doi:10.1016/j.visres.2010.01.003


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