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Author Notes:

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Maria C. Alvarado, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, 954 Gatewood Rd., NE, Atlanta, GA, 30329. malvara@emory.edu

The authors are grateful to Dr. Mortimer Mishkin for providing resources and advice for this study and Dr. Maree Webster for helpful advice.

We thank Norma Minters and Jana Chaudhuri for supervising care of the monkeys and behavioral testing.

We also thank Drs. Gena Pixley and Mimi Belcher for assistance with behavioral testing.

The authors declare no conflict of interest in relation to the present manuscript.


Research Funding:

This project was funded in part by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Mental Health/National Institutes of Health/Department of Health and Human Services; and by NIMH grant MH58848 and NICHD grant HD35471 to JB.

Writing of this manuscript was supported in part by ORIP/OD P51OD011132 (formerly NCRR P51RR000165).


  • Relational Memory
  • Development
  • Medial Temporal Lobe
  • Prefrontal
  • Macaque

Development of relational memory processes in monkeys


Journal Title:

Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience


Volume 22


, Pages 27-35

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


The present study tested whether relational memory processes, as measured by the transverse patterning problem, are late-developing in nonhuman primates as they are in humans. Eighteen macaques ranging from 3–36 months of age, were trained to solve a set of visual discriminations that formed the transverse patterning problem. Subjects were trained at 3, 4–6, 12, 15–24 or 36 months of age to solve three discriminations as follows: 1) A+ vs. B-; 2) B+ vs. C-; 3) C+ vs. A. When trained concurrently, subject must adopt a relational strategy to perform accurately on all three problems. All 36 month old monkeys reached the criterion of 90% correct, but only one 24-month-old and one 15-month-old did, initially. Three-month-old infants performed at chance on all problems. Six and 12-month-olds performed at 75–80% correct but used a ‘linear’ or elemental solution (e.g. A>B>C), which only yields correct performance on two problems. Retraining the younger subjects at 12, 24 or 36 months yielded a quantitative improvement on speed of learning, and a qualitative improvement in 24–36 month old monkeys for learning strategy. The results suggest that nonspatial relational memory develops late in macaques (as in humans), maturing between 15 and 24 months of age.

Copyright information:

© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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