Posted by: Lister | December 4, 2007

Stop comparing Dubya to a chimp

Some of them are quite smart. In fact, some Chimps have outperformed Humans in a test of memory. From Channel 4:

Researchers pitted young chimps against human adults in two tests of short-term memory, and overall, the chimps won.

The results challenge the belief that humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions, said researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University.

[…] Results of the memory testing showed that while the chimps were no more accurate than humans, they were faster.

One test included three five-year-old chimps who’d been taught the order of Arabic numerals one through nine, and a dozen human volunteers.

They saw nine numbers displayed on a computer screen. When they touched the first number, the other eight turned into white squares. The test was to touch all these squares in the order of the numbers that used to be there.

Even after six months of training, the students still couldn’t keep up with their chimpanzee competitors.

The Scotsman:

[…] Ayumu, a young chimpanzee who nearly died at birth, has astonished scientists by outperforming a group of humans in a challenge of short-term memory.

The tests, according to Japanese researchers, go some way to disproving the theory that a cognitive chasm separates apes from humans, and further cements the close bond between the primate relatives.

In one test, which pitted Ayumu against nine university students, five numbers flashed momentarily on a computer monitor before they were replaced by white squares.

The results showed seven-year-old Ayumu – who nearly choked to death at birth before his mother cleared his airway – was able to best recall the numerical sequence, scoring 80 per cent compared to the average human score of 40 per cent.

[…] Dr Matsuzawa said that Ayumu exhibited what looked like eidetic imagery – better known as photographic memory – a special ability to retain a detailed and accurate image of a complex scene or pattern.

He added that some human children display this skill, but lose it as they get older.

[…] Dr Matsuzawa also offered possible explanations for Ayumu’s advantage.

He suggested that human ancestors forfeited much of Ayumu’s skills for remembering a “snapshot” moment over evolutionary time in order to make room for gaining language abilities.

And he added that, given he was just five at the time of the tests, Ayumu’s youth may have been a factor in his success. At a young age, the primatologist said, chimps are better able to recall such information.


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