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Robust retention and transfer of tool construction techniques in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).

Vale, G. and Flynn, E. and Pender, L. and Price, E. and Whiten, A. and Lambeth, P. and Schapiro, S. and Kendal, R. (2016) 'Robust retention and transfer of tool construction techniques in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).', Journal of comparative psychology., 130 (1). pp. 24-35.


Long-term memory can be critical to a species’ survival in environments with seasonal and even longer-term cycles of resource availability. The present, longitudinal study investigated whether complex tool behaviors used to gain an out-of-reach reward, following a hiatus of about 3 years and 7 months since initial experiences with a tool use task, were retained and subsequently executed more quickly by experienced than by naïve chimpanzees. Ten of the 11 retested chimpanzees displayed impressive long-term procedural memory, creating elongated tools using the same methods employed years previously, either combining 2 tools or extending a single tool. The complex tool behaviors were also transferred to a different task context, showing behavioral flexibility. This represents some of the first evidence for appreciable long-term procedural memory, and improvements in the utility of complex tool manufacture in chimpanzees. Such long-term procedural memory and behavioral flexibility have important implications for the longevity and transmission of behavioral traditions.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© 2015 APA, all rights reserved. This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Date accepted:10 September 2015
Date deposited:11 September 2015
Date of first online publication:01 February 2016
Date first made open access:01 February 2016

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