Original Article

Animal Cognition

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 27-37

First online:

A test of object permanence in a new-world monkey species, cotton top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus)

  • Julie J. NeiworthAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Carleton College Email author 
  • , Eric SteinmarkAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Carleton College
  • , Benjamin M. BasileAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Carleton College
  • , Ryann WondersAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Carleton College
  • , Frances SteelyAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Carleton College
  • , Catherine DeHartAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Carleton College

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Cotton top tamarins were tested in visible and invisible displacement tasks in a method similar to that used elsewhere to test squirrel monkeys and orangutans. All subjects performed at levels significantly above chance on visible (n=8) and invisible (n=7) displacements, wherein the tasks included tests of the perseverance error, tests of memory in double and triple displacements, and "catch" trials that tested for the use of the experimenter's hand as a cue for the correct cup. Performance on all nine tasks was significantly higher than chance level selection of cups, and tasks using visible displacements generated more accurate performance than tasks using invisible displacements. Performance was not accounted for by a practice effect based on exposure to successive tasks. Results suggest that tamarins possess stage 6 object permanence capabilities, and that in a situation involving brief exposure to tasks and foraging opportunities, tracking objects' movements and responding more flexibly are abilities expressed readily by the tamarins.


Object permanence Monkeys Tamarins Object choice task Development