Michael J. Beran, Ph.D.
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Last updated: 
September 1, 2021

 

 

Flemming, T. M., Thompson, R. K. R., Beran, M. J., & Washburn, D. A. (2011).  Analogical reasoning and the differential outcome effect: Transitory bridging of the conceptual gap for rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta).  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 37, 353-360.

Monkeys, unlike chimpanzees and humans, have a marked difficulty acquiring relational matching-to-sample (RMTS) tasks that likely reflect the cognitive foundation upon which analogical reasoning rests. In the present study, rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) completed a categorical (identity and nonidentity) RMTS task with differential reward (pellet ratio) and/or punishment (timeout ratio) outcomes for correct and incorrect choices. Monkeys in either differential reward-only or punishment-only conditions performed at chance levels. However, the RMTS performance of monkeys experiencing both differential reward and punishment conditions was significantly better than chance. Subsequently when all animals experienced nondifferential outcomes tests, their RMTS performance levels were at chance. These results indicate that combining differential reward and punishment contingencies provide an effective, albeit transitory, scaffolding for monkeys to judge analogical relations-between-relations.

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