Heterogeneity of performances in several inhibitory control tasks: male rhesus macaques are more easily distracted than females

Louise Loyant, Bridget Waller, Jérôme Micheletta, Marine Joly

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Abstract

Inhibitory control, the ability to override a dominant response, is crucial in many aspects of everyday life. In animal studies, striking individual variations are often largely ignored and their causes rarely considered. Hence, our aims were to systematically investigate individual variability in inhibitory control, to replicate the most common causes of individual variation (age, sex and rank) and to determine if these factors had a consistent effect on three main components of inhibitory control (inhibition of a distraction, inhibition of an action, inhibition of a cognitive set). We tested 21 rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) in a battery of validated touchscreen tasks. We first found individual variations in all inhibitory control performances. We then demonstrated that males had poorer performances to inhibit a distraction and that middle-aged individuals exhibited poorer performance in the inhibition of a cognitive set. Hence, the factors age and sex were not consistently associated with the main components of inhibitory control, suggesting a multifaceted structure. The rank of the subjects did not
influence any inhibitory control performances. This study adopts a novel approach for animal behaviour studies and gives new insight into the individual variability of inhibitory control which is crucial to understand its evolutionary underpinnings.
Original languageEnglish
Article number211564
Number of pages22
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume8
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2021

Keywords

  • macaque
  • evolution of cognition
  • sociality
  • reversal learning task
  • Distraction task
  • Go/No-go task
  • UKRI
  • MRC

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