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Physiol Behav. 1998 Jun 15;64(4):521-7.

Assessing olfactory performance in an Old World primate, Macaca nemestrina.

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Institut für Medizinische Psychologie, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München, Germany.


The present study demonstrates that an operant conditioning paradigm, originally designed for assessing olfactory performance in a small New World primate, the squirrel monkey, can successfully be adapted for use with a large Old World primate, the pigtail macaque. Using a task designed to simulate olfactory-guided foraging behavior, based on multiple discrimination of simultaneously presented odor stimuli, we could show that Macaca nemestrina is able to learn to discriminate between objects on the basis of odor cues. Moreover, they could readily transfer to new S+ and S- stimuli and could remember the significance of previously learned odor stimuli even after a 3-week break. Furthermore, we could show that this method is suitable for obtaining reliable measures of olfactory sensitivity. The few modifications of the original method employed here did not affect essential features such as the mode of stimulus presentation (odorized paper strips attached to manipulation objects) and the choice criterion (opening or rejecting the odorized manipulation objects), thus for the first time enabling valid interspecific comparisons of olfactory capabilities between a catarrhine and a platyrrhine primate species. Our results indicate that M. nemestrina and Saimiri sciureus are similar with regard to several measures of olfactory performance, such as speed of initial task acquisition and ability to master transfer tasks as well as their sensitivity to a food-related odorant.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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