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Author Notes:

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Rachel F. L. Diamond, Emory University, Department of Psychology, 36 Eagle Row, Atlanta, GA 30322. rachel.diamond@emory.edu.

We thank Kimberly Burke and Meghan Sosnowski for help testing subjects, the Zoo Atlanta primate staff for their support.


Research Funding:

This work was supported by Zoo Atlanta and by National Science Foundation awards BCS-0745573 and IOS-1146316 to Robert R. Hampton.


  • rhesus monkey
  • orangutan
  • classification
  • vision

Similar stimulus features control visual classification in orangutans and rhesus monkeys


Journal Title:

Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior


Volume 105, Number 1


, Pages 100-110

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Many species classify images according to visual attributes. In pigeons, local features may disproportionately control classification, whereas in primates global features may exert greater control. In the absence of explicitly comparative studies, in which different species are tested with the same stimuli under similar conditions, it is not possible to determine how much of the variation in the control of classification is due to species differences and how much is due to differences in the stimuli, training, or testing conditions. We tested rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) and orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus and Pongo abelii) in identical tests in which images were modified to determine which stimulus features controlled classification. Monkeys and orangutans were trained to classify full color images of birds, fish, flowers, and people; they were later given generalization tests in which images were novel, black and white, black and white line drawings, or scrambled. Classification in these primate species was controlled by multiple stimulus attributes, both global and local, and the species behaved similarly.

Copyright information:

© 2015 Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

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