Comparing dogs and great apes in their ability to visually track object transpositions

E. Rooijakkers, Juliane Kaminski, J. Call

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Knowing that objects continue to exist after disappearing from sight and tracking invisible object displacements are two basic elements of spatial cognition. The current study compares dogs and apes in an invisible transposition task. Food was hidden under one of two cups in full view of the subject. After that both cups were displaced, systematically varying two main factors, whether cups were crossed during displacement and whether the cups were substituted by the other cup or instead cups were moved to new locations. While the apes were successful in all conditions, the dogs had a strong preference to approach the location where they last saw the reward, especially if this location remained filled. In addition, dogs seem to have especial difficulties to track the reward when both containers crossed their path during displacement. These results confirm the substantial difference that exists between great apes and dogs with regard to mental representation abilities required to track the invisible displacements of objects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-796
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Cognition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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