General intelligence in another primate: individual differences across cognitive task performance in a New World monkey (Saguinus oedipus).
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BACKGROUND: Individual differences in human cognitive abilities show consistently positive correlations across diverse domains, providing the basis for the trait of "general intelligence" (g). At present, little is known about the evolution of g, in part because most comparative studies focus on rodents or on differences across higher-level taxa. What is needed, therefore, are experiments targeting nonhuman primates, focusing on individual differences within a single species, using a broad battery of tasks. To this end, we administered a large battery of tasks, representing a broad range of cognitive domains, to a population of captive cotton-top tamarin monkeys (Saguinus oedipus). METHODOLOGY AND RESULTS: Using a Bayesian latent variable model, we show that the pattern of correlations among tasks is consistent with the existence of a general factor accounting for a small but significant proportion of the variance in each task (the lower bounds of 95% Bayesian credibility intervals for correlations between g and task performance all exceed 0.12). CONCLUSION: Individual differences in cognitive abilities within at least one other primate species can be characterized by a general intelligence factor, supporting the hypothesis that important aspects of human cognitive function most likely evolved from ancient neural substrates.