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Tool-use learning by common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus).


ABSTRACT: One of the most critical and common features of tool use is that the tool essentially functions as a part of the body. This feature is likely rooted in biological features that are shared by tool users. To establish an ideal primate model to explore the neurobiological mechanisms supporting tool-use behaviours, we trained common marmosets, a small New World monkey species that is not usually associated with tool use, to use a rake-shaped tool to retrieve food. Five naive common marmosets were systematically trained to manipulate the tool using a 4-stage, step-by-step protocol. The relative positions of the tool and the food were manipulated, so that the marmosets were required to (1) pull the tool vertically, (2) move the tool horizontally, (3) make an arc to retrieve a food item located behind the tool and (4) retrieve the food item. We found considerable individual differences in tool-use technique; for example, one animal consistently used a unilateral hand movement for all of the steps, whereas the others (n = 4) used both hands to move the tool depending on the location of the food item. After extensive training, all of the marmosets could manipulate the rake-shaped tool, which is reported in this species for the first time. The common marmoset is thus a model primate for such studies. This study sets the stage for future research to examine the biological mechanisms underlying the cognitive ability of tool use at the molecular and genetic levels.

SUBMITTER: Yamazaki Y 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC3140946 | BioStudies | 2011-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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