Primate cognition test battery in parrots

In: Behaviour
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  • 1 Max-Planck-Institute for Ornithology, , Eberhard-Gwinner-Strasse, 82319 Seewiesen, , Germany
  • | 2 Max-Planck Comparative Cognition Research Station, , Loro Parque Fundación, 38400 Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, , Spain
  • | 3 Department of Life Science and Systems Biology, University of Turin, , Turin, , Italy
  • | 4 Department of Biology II, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, , Munich, , Germany
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Systematic, broad phylogenetic comparisons of diverse cognitive abilities are essential to understand cognitive evolution. Few studies have examined multiple skills comparatively, using identical tasks across species. Previous research centered on primates, but recent evidence suggests that complex cognition may have evolved in distantly related taxa. We administered the tasks of the primate cognition test battery (PCTB) to 4 parrot species for a first direct comparison with primates. The parrots did not perform significantly worse than the previously tested primates in all but one of the test scales, but remained at chance levels throughout. Chimpanzees outperformed them in the physical but not the social domain. No differences between the domains nor across the parrot species were detected. It remains questionable whether the chance level performance reflects the parrots’ cognitive capacity or results from task constraints, which would limit the suitability of PCTB for phylogenetic comparisons. Possible implications for the field are discussed.

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