Extent and Limits of the Matching Concept in Cebus Apella: A Matter of Experimental Control?

UMMS Affiliation

Shriver Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Cognition; Cebus; Discrimination Learning


Mental and Social Health | Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Psychiatry and Psychology


The capacity to exhibit generalized sameness-difference judgments is a hallmark of cognition that is regularly exhibited by humans. As yet, that capacity has not been well documented in New World monkeys such as the capuchin (Cebus apella). This article presents data obtained with 6 capuchin monkeys with a variety of procedures that might lead to generalized identity matching-to-sample (MTS) in this species, reporting part of a research program conducted to evaluate methods for assessing the species' relational learning capacity. Our working hypothesis is that past failures to demonstrate relational learning have been caused by procedural insufficiency rather than a lack of capacity. Thus far, 6 capuchin monkeys have been tested for generalized identity MTS. The apparatus was a touchscreen-equipped microcomputer-controlled experimental chamber. Eleven sets of 3 visual stimuli (black shapes on gray backgrounds) were used. The general procedure was comprised of 4 phases: (a) simple discriminations, (b) repeated shifts of simple discriminations, (c) identity MTS training, and (d) generalized identity MTS tests. Every subject was exposed to each of the phases. Positive results on generalized identity MTS tests were obtained in all of the animals, although there have been substantial differences across individuals. The animal tested most recently has performed at levels comparable to typically developing preschool children.


Galvão, O. F., Barros, R. S., Santos, J. R., Brino, A. L. F., Brandão, S., Lavratti, C. M., McIlvane, W. J. (2005). Extent and limits of the matching concept in cebus apella: A matter of experimental control? Psychological Record, 55(2), 219-232. Link to article on publisher's website

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Psychological Record