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Dev Sci. 2004 Apr;7(2):167-74.

'Core knowledges': a dissociation between spatiotemporal knowledge and contact-mechanics in a non-human primate?

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Department of Psychology, Harvard University, USA.


Human toddlers demonstrate striking failures when searching for hidden objects that interact with other objects, yet successfully locate hidden objects that do not undergo mechanical interactions. This pattern hints at a developmental dissociation between contact-mechanical and spatiotemporal knowledge. Recent studies suggest that adult non-human primates may exhibit a similar dissociation. Here, I provide the first direct test of this dissociation using a search paradigm with adult rhesus monkeys. Subjects watched as a plum rolled behind one of two opaque barriers. In Experiment 1, subjects had to locate the plum based on the position of a wall that blocked the plum's trajectory. Subjects searched incorrectly, apparently neglecting information about the location of the wall. However, subjects searched correctly in Experiments 2-4 when they were given spatiotemporal information about the plum's movement. Results indicate that adult monkeys use spatiotemporal information, but not contact-mechanical information, to locate hidden objects. This dissociation between contact-mechanical and spatiotemporal knowledge is discussed in light of developmental theories of core knowledge and the literature on object-based attention in human adults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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