research

Tactile information improves visual object discrimination in kea, Nestor notabilis, and capuchin monkeys, Sapajus spp.

Abstract

In comparative visual cognition research, the influence of information acquired by nonvisual senses has received little attention. Systematic studies focusing on how the integration of information from sight and touch can affect animal perception are sparse. Here, we investigated whether tactile input improves visual discrimination ability of a bird, the kea, and capuchin monkeys, two species with acute vision, and known for their tendency to handle objects. To this end, we assessed whether, at the attainment of a criterion, accuracy and/or learning speed in the visual modality were enhanced by haptic (i.e. active tactile) exploration of an object. Subjects were trained to select the positive stimulus between two cylinders of the same shape and size, but with different surface structures. In the Sight condition, one pair of cylinders was inserted into transparent Plexiglas tubes. This prevented animals from haptically perceiving the objects' surfaces. In the Sight and Touch condition, one pair of cylinders was not inserted into transparent Plexiglas tubes. This allowed the subjects to perceive the objects' surfaces both visually and haptically. We found that both kea and capuchins (1) showed comparable levels of accuracy at the attainment of the learning criterion in both conditions, but (2) required fewer trials to achieve the criterion in the Sight and Touch condition. Moreover, this study showed that both kea and capuchins can integrate information acquired by the visual and tactile modalities. To our knowledge, this represents the first evidence of visuotactile integration in a bird species. Overall, our findings demonstrate that the acquisition of tactile information while manipulating objects facilitates visual discrimination of objects in two phylogenetically distant species

    Similar works