Document Type

Article

Publication Date

January 2002

Journal or Book Title

Cognition

Issue

86

Abstract

Studies using operant training have demonstrated that laboratory animals can discriminate the number of objects or events based on either auditory or visual stimuli, as well as the integration of both auditory and visual modalities. To date, studies of spontaneous number discrimination in untrained animals have been restricted to the visual modality, leaving open the question of whether such capacities generalize to other modalities such as audition. To explore the capacity to spontaneously discriminate number based on auditory stimuli, and to assess the abstractness of the representation underlying this capacity, a habituation-discrimination procedure involving speech and pure tones was used with a colony of cotton-top tamarins. In the habituation phase, we presented subjects with either two- or three-speech syllable sequences that varied with respect to overall duration, inter-syllable duration, and pitch. In the test phase, we presented subjects with a counterbalanced order of either two- or three-tone sequences that also varied with respect to overall duration, inter-syllable duration, and pitch. The proportion of looking responses to test stimuli differing in number was significantly greater than to test stimuli consisting of the same number.

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