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Anim Cogn. 2014 Mar;17(2):249-57. doi: 10.1007/s10071-013-0657-4. Epub 2013 Jun 30.

Retrospective and prospective metacognitive judgments in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta).

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Department of Psychology, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM, 88003, USA,


A growing body of research suggests that some non-human animals are capable of making accurate metacognitive judgments. In previous studies, non-human animals have made either retrospective or prospective judgments (about how they did on a test or how they will do on a test, respectively). These two types of judgments are dissociable in humans. The current study tested the abilities of two rhesus macaque monkeys to make both retrospective and prospective judgments about their performance on the same memory task. Both monkeys had been trained previously to make retrospective confidence judgments. Both monkeys successfully demonstrated transfer of retrospective metacognitive judgments to the new memory task. Furthermore, both monkeys transferred their retrospective judgments to the prospective task (one, immediately, and one, following the elimination of a response bias). This study is the first to demonstrate both retrospective and prospective monitoring abilities in the same monkeys and on the same task, suggesting a greater level of flexibility in animals' metacognitive monitoring abilities than has been reported previously.

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