Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Sarah Brosnan

Second Advisor

Michael Beran

Third Advisor

Sarah Barber


If you have written a to-do list, used a bookmark, or said, “Hey, Google, set a timer,” you have used cognitive offloading. This term refers to the externalization of mental processes—through physical effort or external resources—to reduce cognitive load. The tradeoff, however, is reduced memory for offloaded information. While humans’ use of cognitive offloading is widespread, we have yet to find clear evidence of its use in other species. I investigated whether tufted capuchins and rhesus macaques could use a “hint button” to offload in a memory task. I predicted that subjects using the button for cognitive offloading would show reduced memory performance when the hint was unexpectedly absent. While subjects’ performance improved when shown a hint, I did not find evidence that they used it for cognitive offloading. With additional comparative research, we may better understand how this behavior evolved and how we can benefit from it.


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Available for download on Thursday, April 03, 2025