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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Sep 8;106(36):15478-82. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0907053106. Epub 2009 Aug 24.

Spatial decisions and cognitive strategies of monkeys and humans based on abstract spatial stimuli in rotation test.

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Institute of Physiology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 1083 Videnska, 14220 Prague, Czech Republic.


We showed previously that macaque monkeys (Macaca mulatta) could orient in real space using abstract visual stimuli presented on a computer screen. They made correct choices according to both spatial stimuli (designed as an abstract representation of a real space) and nonspatial stimuli (pictures lacking any inner configuration information). However, we suggested that there were differences in processing spatial and nonspatial stimuli. In the present experiment we show that monkeys could also use as a cue abstract spatial stimuli rotated with respect to the real response space. We studied the ability of monkeys to decode abstract spatial information provided in one spatial frame (computer screen) and to perform spatial choices in another spatial frame (touch panel separated from the screen). We analyzed how the monkeys were affected by the type of training, whether they perceived the stimuli as "spatial" or "nonspatial," and which cues they used to decode them. We compared humans to monkeys in a similar test to find out which cognitive strategy they used and whether they perceive spatial stimuli in the same way. We demonstrated that there were two possible strategies to solve the task, simple "fitting" ignoring rotations and "remapping," when the stimulus was represented as an "abstract space" per se.

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