Memory for lists of sounds by the bottle-nosed dolphin: convergence of memory processes with humans?

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  04 Feb 1977:
Vol. 195, Issue 4277, pp. 501-503
DOI: 10.1126/science.835012


After listening to a list of as many as six discriminably different 2-second sounds, a bottle-nosed dolphin classified a subsequent probe sound as either "old" (from the list) or "new." The probability of recognizing an old probe was close to 1.0 if it matched the most recent sound in the list and decreased sigmoidally for successively earlier list sounds. Memory span was estimated to be at least four sounds. Overall probabilities of correctly classifying old and new probes corresponded closely, as if recognition decisions were made according to an optimum maximum likelihood criterion. The data bore many similarities to data obtained from humans tested on probe recognition tasks.