Comparison of delayed matching-to-sample performance in monkeys and children

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Behavioural Processes


Although research has consistently demonstrated that accuracy on a variety of memory tasks decreases as delay increases, relatively little research has been conducted to quantify this relationship across development in humans or directly compare rates of forgetting between humans and monkeys. This study utilized a delayed matching-to-sample (DMTS) task to compare the relative contributions of proactive interference and attention on the rate of forgetting in monkeys and children. The performance of 1125 children from four to fourteen years of age and 10 adult rhesus monkeys was compared. For this DMTS task, a shape was displayed on the center one of three press-plates. After a delay, the subjects were required to match the original shape with one of three choice shapes to receive a banana-flavored food pellet for monkeys, or a nickel for children. A modified power function provided an excellent fit for the data for monkeys and children. The forgetting rates in children decreased with age, and the forgetting rates for monkeys were most comparable to those of younger children. The data also suggest that proactive interference did not significantly contribute to the forgetting rates for monkeys or younger children. Further, the monkeys appeared to attend to the task at a level similar to that of younger children as evidenced by the similarities in response latencies. The results from this study indicate that the rate of forgetting in monkeys, as well as the mechanisms underlying this rate, appears to share more similarities with that of younger children than of older children.



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