Assessment of metacognitive monitoring and control in baboons (Papio papio)


  • Malassis Raphaëlle
  • Gheusi Gilles
  • Fagot Joël

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Metacognition refers to the ability of an organism to evaluate its states of knowledge (metacognitive monitoring) and engage in appropriate information-seeking behaviors when a lack of knowledge is detected (metacognitive control). This study assessed metacognitive monitoring and control in three Guinea baboons (Papio papio). Monkeys were required to report on a touchscreen the location of two target stimuli that had previously appeared briefly on a grid. They could either respond directly or use a ``Repeat'' key providing an opportunity to repeat the target stimuli. In Experiment 1, the baboons used the Repeat key more frequently in difficult trials and transferred this use of the key to novel conditions. Two baboons showed higher accuracy when they declined using the key compared to Baseline trials in which the key was not available, suggesting accurate metacognitive monitoring judgments. The same two baboons were consistently faster at reporting the targets' locations after a repetition of the stimulus. In Experiment 2, the baboons had to choose between two Repeat keys, one for each target. Two baboons showed a preference for repeating the presentation of the less visible target, suggesting that they identified what information they lack. Overall, results support the hypothesis of metacognitive monitoring in baboons, and also provide limited evidence for metacognitive control. We propose that tests requiring subjects to choose between several metacognitive responses in computerized tasks provide a suitable new approach for studying targeted information-seeking behaviors in animals.

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