Dissociation of active working memory and passive recognition in rhesus monkeys

Cognition. 2013 Mar;126(3):391-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2012.10.012. Epub 2012 Dec 31.


Active cognitive control of working memory is central in most human memory models, but behavioral evidence for such control in nonhuman primates is absent and neurophysiological evidence, while suggestive, is indirect. We present behavioral evidence that monkey memory for familiar images is under active cognitive control. Concurrent cognitive demands during the memory delay impaired matching-to-sample performance for familiar images in a demand-dependent manner, indicating that maintaining these images in memory taxed limited cognitive resources. Performance with unfamiliar images was unaffected, dissociating active from passive memory processes. Active cognitive control of memory in monkeys demonstrates that language is unnecessary for active memory maintenance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta / psychology*
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology