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Published:April 4th, 2013 17:49 EST

Chimpanzees Found to be Capable of Metacognition

By John Pustelnik

Researchers have found that chimpanzees are capable of metacognition, making them the only animal besides humans known to possess this ability.

Metacognition is the ability to understand what one knows and does not know, as well as being aware of how one learns and thinks.


"The demonstration of metacognition in nonhuman primates has important implications regarding the emergence of self-reflective mind during humans` cognitive evolution," said the research team at Georgia State University and the University of Buffalo.

Researchers tested chimpanzees to see if they were capable of metacognition by placing them in scenarios where either they knew what food was behind a door, or did not. When the chimpanzees had enough information to know what food was behind the door, they immediately pressed a button with a picture of the food on it in order to get the food. If they did not have enough information to know what was behind the door, they actively sought out more information in order to be sure they knew what food was behind the door in order to receive it.

"This pattern of behavior reflects a controlled information-seeking capacity that serves to support intelligent responding, and it strongly suggests that our closest living relative has metacognitive abilities closely related to those of humans," said the research team.

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