Martin-Ordas G, Atencia R & Fernandez-Navarro S (2020) Forgetting in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): What is the role of interference?. PLOS ONE, 15 (5), Art. No.: e0234004. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234004
Humans are constantly acquiring new information and skills. However, forgetting is also a common phenomenon in our lives. Understanding the lability of memories is critical to appreciate how they are formed as well as forgotten. Here we investigate the lability of chimpanzees’ short-term memories and assess what factors cause forgetting in our closest relatives. In two experiments, chimpanzees were presented with a target task, which involved remembering a reward location, followed by the presentation of an interference task—requiring the recollection of a different reward location. The interference task could take place soon after the presentation of the target task or soon before the retrieval of the food locations. The results show that chimpanzees’ memories for the location of a reward in a target task were compromised by the presentation of a different food location in an interference task. Critically, the temporal location of the interference task did not significantly affect chimpanzees’ performance. These pattern of results were found for both Experiment 1—when the retention interval between the encoding and retrieval of the target task was 60 seconds- and Experiment 2—when the retention interval between the encoding and retrieval of the target task was 30 seconds. We argue that the temporal proximity of the to-be-remembered information and the interference item during encoding is the factor driving chimpanzees’ performance in the present studies.
General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology; General Agricultural and Biological Sciences; General Medicine
PLOS ONE: Volume 15, Issue 5