Concept of uprightness in baboons: assessment with pictures of realistic scenes


  • Fagot Joël
  • Bonte Élodie
  • Parron Carole

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How nonhuman primates process pictures of natural scenes or objects remains a matter of debates. This issue was addressed in the current research by questioning the processing of the canonical orientation of pictures in baboons. Two adult guinea baboons were trained to use an interactive key (IK) on a touch-screen to change the orientation of target pictures showing humans or quadruped mammals until upright. In experiment 1, both baboons successfully learned to use the IK when that key induced a 90A degrees rightward rotation of the picture, but post-training transfer of performance did not occur to novel pictures of natural scenes due to potential motor biases. In Experiment 2, a touch on IK randomly displayed the pictures in any of the four cardinal orientations. Baboons successfully learned the task, but transfer to novel pictures could only be demonstrated after they had been exposed to 360-480 pictures in that condition. Experiment 3 confirmed positive transfers to novel pictures, and showed that both the figure and background information controlled the behavior. Our research on baboons therefore demonstrates the development and use of an ``upright'' concept, and indicates that picture processing modes strongly depend on the subject's past experience with naturalistic pictorial stimuli.

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