Different macaque models of cognitive aging exhibit task-dependent behavioral disparities

Alison E. Comrie, Daniel T. Gray, Anne C. Smith, Carol A. Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Deficits in cognitive functions that rely on the integrity of the frontal and temporal lobes are characteristic of normative human aging. Due to similar aging phenotypes and homologous cortical organization between nonhuman primates and humans, several species of macaque monkeys are used as models to explore brain senescence. These macaque species are typically regarded as equivalent models of cognitive aging, yet no direct comparisons have been made to support this assumption. Here we used adult and aged rhesus and bonnet macaques (Macaca mulatta and Macaca radiata) to characterize the effect of age on acquisition and retention of information across delays in a battery of behavioral tasks that rely on prefrontal cortex and medial temporal lobe networks. The cognitive functions that were tested include visuospatial short-term memory, object recognition memory, and object-reward association memory. In general, bonnet macaques at all ages outperformed rhesus macaques on tasks thought to rely primarily on the prefrontal cortex, and were more resilient to age-related deficits in these behaviors. On the other hand, both species were comparably impaired by age on tasks thought to preferentially engage the medial temporal lobe. Together, these results suggest that rhesus and bonnet macaques are not equivalent models of cognitive aging and highlight the value of cross-species comparisons. These observations should enable improved design and interpretation of future experiments aimed at understanding changes in cognition across the lifespan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-119
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - May 15 2018


  • Bonnet macaques
  • Object recognition memory
  • Object-reward association memory
  • Rhesus macaques
  • Visuospatial short-term memory
  • WGTA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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