Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) show robust evidence for memory awareness across multiple generalization tests.Anim Cogn. 2012 May; 15(3):409-19.AC
The possibility that memory awareness occurs in nonhuman animals has been evaluated by providing opportunity to decline memory tests. Current evidence suggests that rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) selectively decline tests when memory is weak (Hampton in Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98:5359-5362, 2001; Smith et al. in Behav Brain Sci 26:317-374, 2003). However, much of the existing research in nonhuman metacognition is subject to the criticism that, after considerable training on one test type, subjects learn to decline difficult trials based on associative learning of external test-specific contingencies rather than by evaluating the private status of memory or other cognitive states. We evaluated whether such test-specific associations could account for performance by presenting monkeys with a series of generalization tests across which no single association with external stimuli was likely to adaptively control use of the decline response. Six monkeys performed a four alternative delayed matching to location task and were significantly more accurate on trials with a decline option available than on trials without it, indicating that subjects selectively declined tests when memory was weak. Monkeys transferred appropriate use of the decline response under three conditions that assessed generalization: two tests that weakened memory and one test that enhanced memory in a novel way. Bidirectional generalization indicates that use of the decline response by monkeys is not controlled by specific external stimuli but is rather a flexible behavior based on a private assessment of memory.