Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

If metacognition exists in other species, how does it develop?

Ruth Campos a1 and Annette Karmiloff-Smith a2
a1 Basic Psychology Department, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, 28049, Spain
a2 Neurocognitive Development Unit, Institute of Child Health, London, WC1N 1EH, United Kingdom


In this commentary, we raise two issues. First, we argue that in any species, the comparative study of metacognitive abilities must be approached from a developmental perspective and not solely from the adult end state. This makes it possible to explore the trajectories by which different species reach their phenotypic outcome and whether different cognitive systems interact over developmental time. Second, using our research comparing different genetic disorders in humans, we challenge the authors' claim that it is unparsimonious to interpret the same performance in humans and animals in qualitatively different ways, because even the same overt behaviour in different groups of humans can be sustained by different underlying cognitive processes.