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Dimensional bias and adaptive adjustments in inhibitory control of monkeys


Humans and macaque monkeys, performing a Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), show a significant behavioral bias to a particular sensory dimension (e.g. color or shape); however, lesions in prefrontal cortical regions do not abolish the dimensional biases in monkeys and, therefore, it has been proposed that these biases emerge in earlier stages of visual information processing. It remains unclear whether such dimensional biases are unique to the WCST, in which attention-shifting between dimensions are required, or affect other aspects of executive functions such as ‘response inhibition’ and ‘error-induced behavioral adjustments’. To address this question, we trained six monkeys (Macaca mulatta) to perform a stop-signal task in which they had to inhibit their response when an instruction for inhibition was given by changing the color or shape of a visual stimulus. Stop Signal Reaction Time (SSRT) is an index of inhibitory processes. In all monkeys, SSRT was significantly shorter, and the probability of a successful inhibition was significantly higher, when a change in the shape dimension acted as the stop-cue. Humans show a response slowing following a failure in response inhibition and also adapt a proactive slowing after facing demands for response inhibition. We found such adaptive behavioral adjustments, with the same pattern, in monkeys’ behavior; however, the dimensional bias did not modulate them. Our findings, showing dimensional bias in monkey, with the same pattern, in two different executive control tasks support the hypothesis that the bias to shape dimension emerges in early stages of visual information processing.

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Code availability

Matlab-written codes for data collection and extraction of parameters are available upon reasonable request from corresponding author.


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This research was supported by funding from Kerman University of Medical Sciences under Grant Number of 95000705. Also, this study received supports from Cognitive Sciences and Technologies Council of Iran.

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SG trained the animals, collected data and contributed to the data analysis, task design and writing the manuscript. MMV contributed to the animal training and data collection. VS acquired grant, contributed to the data analysis and writing the manuscript. FAM formulated the study question, contributed to the task design, data analysis and writing the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sadegh Ghasemian.

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Authors declare no financial and non-financial competing of interests.

Ethics approval

All procedures, including animal holding, training and testing were performed according to the NIH guidelines for animal studies and also approved by Kerman University of Medical Sciences’ Animal Ethics Committee: IR.KMU.REC.1396.1691.

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Ghasemian, S., Vardanjani, M.M., Sheibani, V. et al. Dimensional bias and adaptive adjustments in inhibitory control of monkeys. Anim Cogn 24, 815–828 (2021).

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  • Dimensional bias
  • Response inhibition
  • Post-error slowing
  • Post-stop slowing
  • Macaque monkey