Social and Physical Cognition in Marmosets and Tamarins

  • Ludwig Huber
  • Bernhard Voelkl
Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)


In this paper, we summarize and discuss recent research on the cognitive abilities of marmosets and tamarins, and compare its results with findings from other primates. The focus animal in this chapter will be the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus), which we have studied extensively in our lab in Vienna. We present accumulated evidence for callitrichids being likely to: (1) locate food by using some sort of cognitive map, (2) represent objects and their movements in an abstract manner, (3) benefit from social influences that aid in learning about new food by motivational and perceptual factors, and (4) learn new foraging techniques imitatively by observing skillful conspecifics. Together, these findings provide evidence for quite a surprising level of understanding of the physical and social world of these monkeys and shake the long-held belief that callitrichids have low intelligence. These new insights suggest a reevaluation of the traditional monkey-to-ape shift in primate cognition.


Social Learning World Monkey Common Marmoset Food Transfer Object Permanence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


En el presente estudio, resumimos y discutimos investigación reciente sobre las habilidades cognitivas de marmosetas y tamarinos y comparamos sus res­ultados con hallazgos en otros primates. El animal foco de atención en el presente estudio es la marmoseta común (Callithrix jacchus), el cual hemos estudiado extensivamente en nuestro laboratorio en Viena. Presentamos evidencia acumulada de sugiere que los calitrícidos: (1) localizan el alimento usando algún tipo de mapa cognitivo, (2) representan objetos y sus movimientos de una manera abstracta, (3) se benefician de influencias sociales que ayudan en el aprendizaje sobre nuevos alimentos por factores motivacionales y de percepción y (4) aprenden nuevas técnicas de forrajeo por imitación, observando conespecíficos habilidosos. Juntos, estos hallazgos proveen evidencia de un nivel de entendimiento bastante sorprendente del mundo físico y social en estos monos, y debilita la creencia de que los calitrícidos poseen una inteligencia baja. Estos nuevos elementos sugieren una reevaluación del cambio tradicional de mono a simio en la cognición en primates.


Neste estudo nós resumimos e discutimos pesquisas recentes sobre as habilidades cognitivas de sagüis e micos e comparamos os resultados com achados de outros primatas. O animal foco deste capítulo é o sagüi comum, Callithrix jacchus o qual vem sendo estudado extensivamente no nosso Laboratório em Viena. Nós apresentamos dados cumulativos para calitriquídeos que se mostraram aptos para: (1) localizar comida usando algum tipo de mapa cognitivo, (2) representar objetos e seus movimentos de maneira abstrata, (3) se beneficiar de influências sociais que ajudam no aprendizado sobre novos tipos de alimentos por meio de fatores motivacionais e perceptuais e (4) aprender novas técnicas de forrageio por meio da imitação, observando as habilidades de co-específicos. Juntos, estes resultados fornecem evidências sobre os níveis surpreendentes de compreensão do mundo físico e social nestes macacos e questiona as crenças de que os calitriquídeos possuem baixa inteligência. Estas novas evidências sugerem uma re-avaliação do tradicional desvio na passagem macacos-para-pongídeos na cognição de primatas.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department for Behavior, Neurobiology and CognitionUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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