Probability matching is not the default decision making strategy in human and non-human primates

Saldana, C., Claidière, N., Fagot, J., & Smith, K. (2022). Probability matching is not the default decision making strategy in human and non-human primates. Scientific reports, 12(1), 13092. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-16983-w

Abstract: Probability matching has long been taken as a prime example of irrational behaviour in human decision making; however, its nature and uniqueness in the animal world is still much debated. In this paper we report a set of four preregistered experiments testing adult humans and Guinea baboons on matched probability learning tasks, manipulating task complexity (binary or ternary prediction tasks) and reinforcement procedures (with and without corrective feedback). Our findings suggest that probability matching behaviour within primate species is restricted to humans and the simplest possible binary prediction tasks; utility-maximising is seen in more complex tasks for humans as pattern-search becomes more effortful, and we observe it across the board in baboons, altogether suggesting that it is a cognitively less demanding strategy. These results provide further evidence that neither human nor non-human primates default to probability matching; however, unlike other primates, adult humans probability match when the cost of pattern search is low.

Broca area homologue’s asymmetry reflects gestural communication lateralisation in monkeys (Papio anubis)

Becker, Y., Claidière, N., Margiotoudi, K., Marie, D., Roth, M., Nazarian, B., . . . Meguerditchian, A. (2022). Broca area homologue’s asymmetry reflects gestural communication lateralisation in monkeys (Papio anubis). eLife, 11, e70521. doi:10.7554/eLife.70521

Abstract: Manual gestures and speech recruit a common neural network, involving Broca’s area in the left hemisphere. Such speech-gesture integration gave rise to theories on the critical role of manual gesturing in the origin of language. Within this evolutionary framework, research on gestural communication in our closer primate relatives has received renewed attention for investigating its potential language-like features. Here, using in-vivo anatomical MRI in 50 baboons, we found that communicative gesturing is related to Broca homologue’s marker in monkeys, namely the ventral portion of the Inferior Arcuate sulcus (IA sulcus). In fact, both direction and degree of gestural communication’s handedness – but not handedness for object manipulation – are associated and correlated with contralateral depth asymmetry at this exact IA sulcus portion. In other words, baboons that prefer to communicate with their right hand have a deeper left-than-right IA sulcus, than those preferring to communicate with their left hand and vice versa. Interestingly, in contrast to handedness for object manipulation, gestural communication’s lateralisation is not associated to the Central sulcus depth asymmetry, suggesting a double dissociation of handedness’ types between manipulative action and gestural communication. It is thus not excluded that this specific gestural lateralisation signature within the baboons’ frontal cortex might reflect a phylogenetical continuity with language-related Broca lateralisation in humans.

Mutual medication in capuchin monkeys

Bowler, M., Messer, E. J. E., Claidière, N., & Whiten, A. (2015). Mutual medication in capuchin monkeys – Social anointing improves coverage of topically applied anti-parasite medicines. Scientific reports, 5, 15030

Watch the beautiful video: Monkey medicine

Abstract: Wild and captive capuchin monkeys will anoint themselves with a range of strong smelling substances including millipedes, ants, limes and onions. Hypotheses for the function of the behaviour range from medicinal to social. However, capuchin monkeys may anoint in contact with other individuals, as well as individually. The function of social anointing has also been explained as either medicinal or to enhance social bonding. By manipulating the abundance of an anointing resource given to two groups of tufted capuchins, we tested predictions derived from the main hypotheses for the functions of anointing and in particular, social anointing. Monkeys engaged in individual and social anointing in similar proportions when resources were rare or common, and monkeys holding
resources continued to join anointing groups, indicating that social anointing has functions beyond that of gaining access to resources. The distribution of individual and social anointing actions on the monkeys’ bodies supports a medicinal function for both individual and social anointing, that requires no additional social bonding hypotheses. Individual anointing targets hard-to-see body parts that are harder to groom, whilst social anointing targets hard-to-reach body parts. Social anointing in capuchins is a form of mutual medication that improves coverage of topically applied anti-parasite medicines.