Friday, December 07, 2007

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader Chimp

Most humans would laugh at a chimp being smarter than a human. Of course many of us laughed at a fifth grader being smarter than an adult until Jeff Foxworthy showed us the truth. Just like Jeff, Dr. Matsuzawa and colleague, Sana Inoue, have now knocked another chip off of the humans oh so mighty shoulder. In recent tests they have shown that young chimpanzees have a superior memory compared to humans.

The researchers began by training chimps to recognize the numbers 1 – 9 in sequence. An adult female was shown to have a memory for these numbers equal to that of a human. When the researchers went on to test younger chimps, less than 6 years old, they set up a more complex test. They showed the young chimps a scattered assortment of numerals on a touch screen for less than a second and then masked them with white squares. The young chimps had to remember the numbers and then touch the white squares according to a provided numerical sequence. The chimps had an accuracy rate of 80% compared to the lowly adult human’s average score of 40%.

Dr. Matsuzawa explains that this is a similar ability to one seen in human children who are considered autistic. He speculates that in the past both humans and chimps may have exhibited this skill, but through evolution it has been replaced with other functions in human behavior, i.e. complex speech.

Posted by Kyle McCarthy (11)

Photo Credit (c)1996 David Farely


At 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Kyle, this is such an interesting article! I was especially interested in Dr. Matsuzawa's suggestion at the end. Is there any speculation that these studies could give more insight to causes of autism in general? Great job, this is a very fluid and readable summary.

Posted by: Emily King

At 10:36 AM, Blogger PWH said...

Very good blog. Your writing is very clear and easy to follow, as well as humorous. I liked how you began your blog with that cartoon. It was appropriate to the article and funny. Your subject was interesting. Good job!!

Posted by: Scotty Fay

At 3:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post. The cartoon and title really caught my attention and made me want to read further. I was just wondering if there was any insight into why the younger chimps are better at this than the adults. Great job.

Posted by Hollis Martin


Post a Comment

<< Home