Animal Cognition

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 249–257 | Cite as

Retrospective and prospective metacognitive judgments in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)

  • Gin MorganEmail author
  • Nate Kornell
  • Tamar Kornblum
  • Herbert S. Terrace
Original Paper


A growing body of research suggests that some non-human animals are capable of making accurate metacognitive judgments. In previous studies, non-human animals have made either retrospective or prospective judgments (about how they did on a test or how they will do on a test, respectively). These two types of judgments are dissociable in humans. The current study tested the abilities of two rhesus macaque monkeys to make both retrospective and prospective judgments about their performance on the same memory task. Both monkeys had been trained previously to make retrospective confidence judgments. Both monkeys successfully demonstrated transfer of retrospective metacognitive judgments to the new memory task. Furthermore, both monkeys transferred their retrospective judgments to the prospective task (one, immediately, and one, following the elimination of a response bias). This study is the first to demonstrate both retrospective and prospective monitoring abilities in the same monkeys and on the same task, suggesting a greater level of flexibility in animals’ metacognitive monitoring abilities than has been reported previously.


Metacognition Judgment Memory Monkeys 



The project described was supported by award number 5R01MN081153NIMH from the National Institutes of Mental Health and award number JSMF 220020088 from the James S. McDonnell foundation to HST. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Niko Reyes and the graduate students and research assistants of the Primate Cognition Lab.

Ethical standard

The experiments described comply with the laws of the U.S.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gin Morgan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nate Kornell
    • 2
  • Tamar Kornblum
    • 3
  • Herbert S. Terrace
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyWilliams CollegeWilliamstownUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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