Researchers have discovered that macaque monkeys engage in a distinct memory process that was long thought to be practiced solely by humans.
The study, published in the journal Science, shows that this type of monkey can reflect on their memories and evaluate their own ability to recall them, much like humans do. Researchers gave the monkeys a memory test that required them to identify an item from memory. The animals were given an opportunity to “bet” on whether they remembered correctly, with accurate choices receiving rewards and inaccurate bets receiving a “long time out” punishment.
The results showed that monkeys made high bets more often when they recalled items correctly. Researchers then analyzed the monkeys’ confidence in decision-making, and found that their patterns were consistent with those of humans.
Researchers used this experiment to map the prefrontal area in the monkey’s brain used for “metamemory.” And, while humans and monkeys have obvious differences, the findings could be used to help further understanding of the human brain.