Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) spontaneously compute addition operations over large numbers

Jonathan I. Flombaum, Justin A. Junge, Marc D. Hauser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Mathematics is a uniquely human capacity. Studies of animals and human infants reveal, however, that this capacity builds on language-independent mechanisms for quantifying small numbers (<4) precisely and large numbers approximately. It is unclear whether animals and human infants can spontaneously tap mechanisms for quantifying large numbers to compute mathematical operations. Moreover, all available work on addition operations in non-human animals has confounded number with continuous perceptual properties (e.g. volume, contour length) that correlate with number. This study shows that rhesus monkeys spontaneously compute addition operations over large numbers, as opposed to continuous extents, and that the limit on this ability is set by the ratio difference between two numbers as opposed to their absolute difference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-325
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • Compute addition operations
  • Language-independent mechanisms
  • Rhesus monkey


Dive into the research topics of 'Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) spontaneously compute addition operations over large numbers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this