A comparative study of working memory: Immediate serial spatial recall in baboons (Papio papio) and humans


  • Fagot Joël
  • de Lillo Carlo

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Two experiments assessed if non-human primates can be meaningfully compared to humans in a nonverbal test of serial recall. A procedure was used that was derived from variations of the Corsi test, designed to test the effects of sequence structure and movement path length in humans. Two baboons were tested in Experiment 1. The monkeys showed several attributes of human serial recall. These included an easier recall of sequences with a shorter number of items and of sequences characterized by a shorter path length when the number of items was kept constant. However, the accuracy and speed of processing did not indicate that the monkeys were able to benefit from the spatiotemporal structure of sequences. Humans tested in Experiment 2 showed a quantitatively longer memory span, and, in contrast with monkeys, benefitted from sequence structure. The results are discussed in relation to differences in how human and non-human primates segment complex visual patterns. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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