Task Switching in Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta) and Tufted Capuchin Monkeys (Cebus apella) During Computerized Categorization Tasks

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Abstract

The present experiments extended to monkeys a previously used abstract categorization procedure (Castro & Wasserman, 2016) where pigeons had categorized arrays of clipart icons based upon two task rules: the number of clipart objects in the array or the variability of objects in the array. Experiment 1 replicated Castro and Wasserman by using capuchin monkeys and rhesus monkeys and reported that monkeys’ performances were similar to pigeons’ in terms of acquisition, pattern of errors, and the absence of switch costs. Furthermore, monkeys’ insensitivity to the added irrelevant information suggested that an associative (rather than rule-based) categorization mechanism was dominant. Experiment 2 was conducted to include categorization cue reversals to determine (a) whether the monkeys would quickly adapt to the reversals and inhibit interference from a prereversal task rule (consistent with a rule-based mechanism) and (b) whether the latency to make a response prior to a correct or incorrect outcome was informative about the presence of a cognitive mechanism. The cue reassignment produced profound and long-lasting performance deficits, and a long reacquisition phase suggested the involvement of associative learning processes; however, monkeys also displayed longer latencies to choose prior to correct responses on challenging trials, suggesting the involvement of nonassociative processes. Together these performances suggest a mix of associative and cognitive-control processes governing monkey categorization judgments.

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