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Learn Behav. 2004 Nov;32(4):377-90.

Can squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) plan for the future? Studies of temporal myopia in food choice.

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University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.


In seven experiments, 2 squirrel monkeys were given choices between arrays of food that varied in the quantity offered. In Experiments 1-5, the monkeys were offered choices between quantities of the same food that varied in a 2:1 ratio. The squirrel monkeys failed to show the temporal myopia effect or a decrease in preference for the larger quantity as the absolute number of food items offered increased. Even when given choices of 8 versus 16 peanuts and 10 versus 20 peanuts, both monkeys significantly preferred the larger quantity. An examination of the monkeys' rates of consumption indicated that 20 peanuts were consumed over a 1- to 2-h period, with eating bouts separated by periods of nonconsumption. In Experiments 6A, 6B, and 7, food was either pilfered or replenished 15 min after an initial choice, so that choice of the smaller quantity led to more total food in the long run. These manipulations caused both monkeys to reduce choice of the larger quantity, relative to baseline choice. The results suggest that squirrel monkeys anticipated the future consequences of their choices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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