Abstract # 13:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2012 02:00 PM-02:15 PM: Session 4 (Camellia ) Oral Presentation


J. Essler, A. Vining and P. Judge
Bucknell University, 203 O'Leary, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA
     Self-control is a prerequisite for complex cognitive processes, including cooperation and planning. As such, comparative studies of self-control can help trace the evolutionary origin of these capacities. In non-human primates, self-control is typically assessed using reverse-reward contingency tasks or accumulation tasks in which an animal can obtain a larger number of rewards by waiting for them to accumulate. We tested self-control in capuchin monkeys using a bartering paradigm. Animals were trained that particular tokens could be traded for food rewards worth different values and then provided with opportunities to “barter up” with an experimenter. In a bartering up trial, a monkey was provided with a token that was associated with a lower value food. When the monkey traded the token, the experimenter provided the monkey with a choice between the food item that was associated with the lower value token or a token that was associated with a higher value food. If the monkey chose the token, they could trade it for the higher value food. Of five monkeys tested, all bartered up for the higher value food at statistically significant frequencies [Chi Square test, p<.05]. The ability of capuchin monkeys to forego an immediate food reward and select a token that could be traded for a more preferred food demonstrated self-control. Thus, this New World species exhibits this prerequisite for complex cognitive processes.