Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Sarah Brosnan

Second Advisor

Kevin Swartout

Third Advisor

Rebecca Williamson


While it is known that acute and chronic stress can impact cognition, less is known about the immediate impacts of minor frustrations or positive experiences on subsequent behavior and cognition in primates. This study used a novel methodology to engineer both a positive and (slightly) frustrating experience, using the same apparatus, in 15 adult capuchin monkeys. Subjects were presented with a working memory task (DMTS) for 30 minutes after the experimental manipulations (or a control). As predicted, the frustrating task prior to testing resulted in a decrease in performance on the DMTS compared to performance after a positive experience or the control. Contrary to predictions, a positive experience did not facilitate performance to higher levels than the control condition. Manipulations also impacted several behaviors. Although there may be different results in different contexts, these results indicate that even mild negative experiences impact subsequent behavior and cognition in primates.

Available for download on Saturday, April 20, 2019