Home   Publication   Spatial construction skills of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and young human children (Homo sapiens sapiens).

Patrizia Potì, Misato Hayashi, Tetsuro Matsuzawa

Spatial construction skills of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and young human children (Homo sapiens sapiens).

Developmental Science Volume 12, Issue 4, 536–548, doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2008.00797.x


Abstract

Spatial construction tasks are basic tests of visual-spatial processing. Two studies have assessed spatial construction skills in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and young children (Homo sapiens sapiens) with a block modelling task. Study 1a subjects were three young chimpanzees and five adult chimpanzees. Study 1b subjects were 30 human children belonging to five age groups (24, 30, 36, 42, 48 months). Subjects were given three model constructions to reproduce: Line, Cross-Stack and Arch, which differed in type and number of spatial relations and dimensions, but required comparable configurational understanding. Subjects' constructions were rated for accuracy. Our results show that: (1) chimpanzees are relatively advanced in constructing in the vertical dimension; (2) Among chimpanzees only adults make accurate copies of constructions; (3) Chimpanzees do not develop in the direction of constructing in two dimensions as human children do starting from age 30 months. The pattern of development of construction skills in chimpanzees partially diverges from that of human children and indicates that spatial analysis and spatial representation are partially different in the two species.