Visually based path-planning by Japanese monkeys

Hajime Mushiake, Naohiro Saito, Kazuhiro Sakamoto, Yasuyuki Sato, Jun Tanji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


To construct an animal model of strategy formation, we designed a maze path-finding task. First, we asked monkeys to capture a goal in the maze by moving a cursor on the screen. Cursor movement was linked to movements of each wrist. When the animals learned the association between cursor movement and wrist movement, we established a start and a goal in the maze, and asked them to find a path between them. We found that the animals took the shortest pathway, rather than approaching the goal randomly. We further found that the animals adopted a strategy of selecting a fixed intermediate point in the visually presented maze to select one of the shortest pathways, suggesting a visually based path planning. To examine their capacity to use that strategy flexibly, we transformed the task by blocking pathways in the maze, providing a problem to solve. The animals then developed a strategy of solving the problem by planning a novel shortest path from the start to the goal and rerouting the path to bypass the obstacle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-169
Number of pages5
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Detour
  • Maze
  • Monkey
  • Path-planning
  • Prefered waypoint


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