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Testing the Glucose Hypothesis among Capuchin Monkeys: Does Glucose Boost Self-Control?

Psychology Department, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302, USA
Language Research Center, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302, USA
Department of Environmental Sciences, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA 30314, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Jennifer Vonk
Behav. Sci. 2016, 6(3), 16;
Received: 29 April 2016 / Revised: 21 July 2016 / Accepted: 27 July 2016 / Published: 3 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Animal Cognition)
PDF [1638 KB, uploaded 3 August 2016]


The ego-depletion hypothesis states that self-control diminishes over time and with exertion. Accordingly, the glucose hypothesis attributes this depletion of self-control resources to decreases in blood glucose levels. Research has led to mixed findings among humans and nonhuman animals, with limited evidence for such a link between glucose and self-control among closely-related nonhuman primate species, but some evidence from more distantly related species (e.g., honeybees and dogs). We tested this hypothesis in capuchin monkeys by manipulating the sugar content of a calorie-matched breakfast meal following a nocturnal fast, and then presenting each monkey with the accumulation self-control task. Monkeys were presented with food items one-by-one until the subject retrieved and ate the accumulating items, which required continual inhibition of food retrieval in the face of an increasingly desirable reward. Results indicated no relationship between self-control performance on the accumulation task and glucose ingestion levels following a fast. These results do not provide support for the glucose hypothesis of self-control among capuchin monkeys within the presented paradigm. Further research assessing self-control and its physiological correlates among closely- and distantly-related species is warranted to shed light on the mechanisms underlying self-control behavior. View Full-Text
Keywords: self-control; glucose; ego-depletion hypothesis; capuchin monkeys self-control; glucose; ego-depletion hypothesis; capuchin monkeys

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Parrish, A.E.; Emerson, I.D.; Rossettie, M.S.; Beran, M.J. Testing the Glucose Hypothesis among Capuchin Monkeys: Does Glucose Boost Self-Control? Behav. Sci. 2016, 6, 16.

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