Second-guessing our own memory and its reliability may help us come up with the best course of action in social situations. Over-confidence can only get you so far unless you have assessed that you may be right or wrong.
One example is when you check your phone if you have set the alarm. Your memory is unsure about your ability to remember setting alarms in the first place. You judged yourself that you were bad at doing this one particular task.
A new study by researchers at University of Tokyo headed by Kentaro Miyamoto, discovered that such ability of knowing the limitations of our own memory is also exhibited by monkeys.
The research team conducted an experiment with two adult monkeys. They showed the monkeys with series of images. The monkeys can answer with "yes" or "no" when asked if they have seen the random images including those previously shown to them.
The team gave a large reward of juice to the monkey who bet high and got it right, while a small juice juice went to the monkey who bet low regardless of the turnout. The reward rule went insofar as not giving a reward to the monkey who bet high but ended up being incorrect.
"In this parlance, the monkeys can ‘report’ their own metamemory state," Miyamoto says.
When the researchers pinpointed the regions of the brain that had high activity when monkeys placed bets, they decided to inject the monkeys with a drug to temporarily turn those areas off.
When monkeys played the game again, the monkeys' memory abilities showed to have stayed roughly the same, but their ability to bet accurately on how well they remembered suffered significantly.
The researchers plan to expand their study on how monkeys and animals judge their own perception and emotions, and which areas of the brain might be involved.
is published in Science
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