Arielle, the Guinea baboon

Arielle is a Guinea baboon who recently gave birth to a daughter named Uyu, “the one who answers the call” in Wolof. She, her daughter, and the rest of the colony are residents of the primatology centre in Rousset where the CRPN’s Primate Behaviour and Cognition platform is located. Arielle voluntarily takes part in comparative cognition research using a fully automatised computerised system named the Automatic Learning Device for Monkeys, or ALDM.

Like all the members of her group, Arielle can access ALDM at any time from her enclosure. There, she is automatically recognised by the computer using an RFID system. A controlling server assigns her a cognitive task to perform on a touchscreen. At each successful trial, she receives a small food reward; if she makes a mistake, a green screen appears. Every day, Arielle performs about 1500 trials, which takes about 2 hours of her time.

Using this system, Arielle has taken part in numerous published studies on executive control, perception, attention, working memory, abstract reasoning, social cognition or communication and language (see papers here or here). Through her daily routine, Arielle and the rest of her group help us understand how baboons think and what they can or cannot learn, progressively enriching our understanding of cognitive evolution.

(Photo Siham Bouziane)

Posted in Scientific portrait.