Thursday, December 06, 2007

Chimps Beat Humans on Memory Tasks

Young Chimps' Photographic Memory Better than Adult Humans

"In a memory competition of man versus chimp, Japanese researchers found that chimpanzees performed better than humans.

"No one could imagine that chimpanzees -- young chimpanzees at the age of 5 -- have a better performance in a memory task than humans," Kyoto University researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa said in a statement.

In the first test, the chimps successfully counted sequentially from one to nine in return for a peanut or other tasty reward.

In the second test, researchers flashed just some of the nine numerals, then blocked them. The chimps remembered, with mixed success, where each numeral was -- in the right order, even though some were missing.

Though far from perfect, the results surprised the Japanese researchers, who reported their results in the journal Current Biology.

See a video here and here

One chimp, Ayumu, distinguished himself from the other chimps in mental ability. He was included in a second round of tests, which included him and 9 college students.

Five numbers were flashed on a screen for 7/10 of a second, before they became white squares. The participants were required to touch the squares in their correct numerical sequence. When the numbers were shown, Ayumu and the college students succeeded in guessing the correct sequence about 80 percent of the time."

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