Capuchin monkeys (sometimes) go when they know: Confidence movements in Sapajus apella.Cognition. 2020 06; 199:104237.C
To test for evidence of metacognition in capuchin monkeys (Sapajus apella), we analyzed confidence movements using a paradigm adapted from research with chimpanzees. Capuchin monkeys provide an interesting model species for the comparative assessment of metacognition as they show limited evidence of such cognitive-monitoring processes in a variety of metacognition paradigms. Here, monkeys were presented with a computerized delayed matching-to-sample (DMTS) memory test in one location but were rewarded for correct responses in a separate location. Movements could be made from one location to the other at any time, but movements between a response and reward feedback may reflect confidence in the accuracy of the response. Critically, DMTS tests included occasional "no sample" trials where monkeys' performance was at chance when the trial started without a sample and a 1-s interval to the response options. We predicted that monkeys would (1) perform less accurately (and less confidently) at longer retention intervals, (2) move to the dispenser early more often on trials completed correctly than incorrectly, and (3) show a relation between faster response latency and early movements. Analyses of response times and "go" or "no go" confidence movements before feedback to the reward location suggested that the monkeys were capable of monitoring confidence in their responses. However, their confidence movements were less precise and less flexible than chimpanzees. Overall, this paradigm can reveal potential metacognitive abilities in nonhuman animals that otherwise demonstrate these abilities inconsistently.