Memory updating in animals
They used both the appearance of the boxes as well as their position to remember their previous choices.Another similarity with people is that we typically perform worse in working memory tests if we have to do another, distracting task.But there were also differences between human working memory and the chimpanzees’.The most obvious difference wasn’t the working memory capacity – that is, the ability to keep track of a series of events – but the search strategies that were used.But our study provides evidence that chimpanzees possess similar working memory abilities to humans.They’re able to perform at a level comparable to seven-year-old children in a working memory task that requires them to constantly update their memory.
Search strategies like these reduce the memory demand because we only need to remember our last choice.
The chimpanzees first watched how pieces of food were hidden in all of these boxes.
They then started to search for the food items by pointing at the boxes one by one.
After each choice they would have to update their memory.
Only if they managed to continuously keep in mind which boxes they had already chosen, and which boxes still contained food, would they be able to retrieve all of the food items within the number of choices that they got.