Chimpanzees, just like humans, are capable of Metacognition and know when they are right!

Research suggests that Chimpanzees share metacognitive monitoring, just like humans, because they can do their own thinking and display confidence when they are right.

A research team group, at Georgia State University, Agnes Scott College, Wofford College and the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, together have suggested that just like humans, Chimpanzees too are capable of Metacognition. This is an indication that Chimpanzees can also display confidence whenever they are right!

Metacognitive monitoring basically reflects a form of cognitive control which underlies the intelligent decision making capacity across various species.

‘Metacognition’ refers to an higher order of thinking that would involve active control over the cognitive processes which are engaged in learning.

Basically, metacognition happens when individuals monitor between what they know and what they do not know. When an individual seeks information they need to know something, on the other hand when they respond to some query it could be with high confidence or low confidence.

One of the best method to measure confidence is to look at how a humans monitor the status of their knowledge. In case of human beings they can speak out and tell whether they are feeling confident or lacking the same, in some cases they can even give numerical ratings to measure the level of confidence.

Researchers conducted the study with the aim of finding out if non human animals are capable of showing similar behavioral indications in regards to confidence and uncertainty.

An associate director of the Language Research Centre at Georgia State University, Michael Beran, said: “The results suggest that chimpanzees show similar behavior to humans.”

The research study comprised of three chimpanzees who were given a series of computerized tests to check their memory.

After every phase of memory test there was a short delay before the computer gave its feedback on whether the answer given by the chimpanzees were correct or incorrect.

Then again after a gap of few seconds the chimpanzee would be awarded with food reward in case the answer was correct.

On the other hand, suppose the answer was incorrect then the food reward would be taken away from the test chimpanzee, thus based on the results of their memory the chimpanzee would either get or would not get its food.

Another aspect of the test was that if chimpanzees had not moved to the location when the reward was being delivered then they would loose the reward and will not be able to recover the same.

Researchers found that during the tests, chimpanzees showed that they were able to monitor the strength of their memories consistently and were acting accordingly.

Researchers were using the tests wherein the chimpanzees would need to remember varying types of things and for different period of time, thus the research team was able to manipulate as to how strong or weak the memories of these test chimpanzees could be.

It was further found that in case when the chimpanzees gave correct answer they were moving towards their rewards much earlier and even before they had the feedback from the computer program than when they gave an incorrect answer.

These early movements towards the reward indicated that the test chimpanzees’ were capable of metacognitive monitoring  and thus displayed their confidence in response to the result of their memory test.

The study thus suggests that just like humans even chimpanzees have the capacity of metacognitive monitoring.

The details of the study and its results have been published in the journal, Cognition.

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