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date: 29 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Demonstrations of animal memory were among the earliest experimental results obtained in psychology, but investigations of whether animals show metacognitive competencies are relatively new. Such investigations require innovative paradigms in which uncertainty can be created and empirically validated, methods by which nonverbal organisms can indicate their recognition of confidence or uncertainty, and systematic inquiry to determine whether such responses are externally, associatively generated or are subjective and metacognitive. This third point requires particular attention to balance competing considerations like anthropomorphism, parsimony, and interpretive errors, such as being too inclined to infer analogous mechanisms, or conversely to reject real demonstrations of animal metamemory by holding them to different evidentiary standards than is human metacognition. The results from numerous attempts to address these challenges are reviewed, yielding the overall conclusion that the capacity for metamemory and metacognition has been demonstrated at least by some animals in ways that defy low-level associative interpretation.

Keywords: metacognition, metamemory, uncertainty monitoring, information-seeking, cognitive control, comparative cognition, animal cognition

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