Factors influencing imitation of manipulatory actions in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)
Masako Myowa-Yamakoshi, Tetsuro Matsuzawa
The purpose of the study was to investigate what kind of factors determine the degree of difficulty for chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) when they imitate actions. Five adult chimpanzees were instructed to perform 48 arbitrary manipulatory actions consisting of different bodily motor patterns and object directionality. Results showed that actions in which an object is directed toward another external location (another object and one's own body) were easier to perform than those that involved manipulating a single object alone. Actions involving unfamiliar motor patterns were more difficult to perform than those involving familiar motor patterns that were already present in the subject's repertoire. Error responses were characterized as perseverative repetition of previously instructed actions. These findings suggest that chimpanzees find the directionality of manipulated objects a more salient cue than details of the demonstrator's body movements performing the manipulation.