Animal Cognition

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 317–324 | Cite as

Sequential planning in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta)

  • Damian Scarf
  • Erin Danly
  • Gin Morgan
  • Michael Colombo
  • Herbert S. Terrace
Original Paper


In the current study, we examined the planning abilities of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) by training them on a five-item list composed of coloured photographs and then testing them on switch and mask trials. In contrast to previous studies where monkeys made responses using a joystick, in the current study, monkeys made responses directly to a touch screen. On switch trials, after a response to the first list item, the on-screen positions of two list items were exchanged. Performance on trials in which the second and third list items were exchanged was poorer compared to normal (non-switch) trials for all subjects. When the third and fourth items were exchanged, however, only one subject continued to show performance deficits. On mask trials, following a response to the first item, the remaining items were covered by opaque white squares. When two items were masked, all four subjects responded to each masked item at a level significantly above chance. When three items were masked, however, only one subjected was able to respond to all three masked items at a level significantly above chance. The results of the present study indicate that three of our four monkeys planned one response ahead while a single monkey planned two responses ahead. The significance of these findings is discussed in relation to previous studies on planning in chimpanzees and monkeys.


Planning Serial order Simultaneous chain 



This study was supported in part by a Fulbright Ministry of Research, Science and Technology award to D. Scarf and a University of Otago Research Committee Postgraduate Publishing Bursary to D. Scarf.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Damian Scarf
    • 1
  • Erin Danly
    • 3
  • Gin Morgan
    • 2
  • Michael Colombo
    • 1
  • Herbert S. Terrace
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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