Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Japanese Scientist Says Chimps Good at Math

I love this article. Kyoto University scientist Tetsuro Matsuzawa has conducted research on chimpanzees' math proficiency.

In a study due to be published tomorrow in Current Biology, Matsuzawa showed a computer screen grid of nine numbers to six chimpanzees, all trained to recognize the ascending nature of arabic numberals, and nine college students. When subjects touched one number, the others disappeared. Then they had to touch the squares in the order of the numbers that used to be there.

When the original numbers remained on-screen for seven-tenths of a second, the college kids fared as well as Ayumu, the most prodigious of the chimps. Both had a success rate of 80 percent. But when the numbers flashed for just four-tenths of a second or less, Ayumu's success rate stayed the same, while the others plummeted to 40 percent. Even with six months of training, three students still couldn't beat Ayumu.

"It's amazing what this chimpanzee is able to do," chimpanzee researcher Elizabeth Lonsdorf told the Associated Press. "I just watched the video of that and I can tell you right now, there's no way I can do it. It's unbelievable. I can't even get the first two (squares)."

Matsuzawa's conclusions say it all.

Wrote Matsuzawa,

I simply say the fact:

Young chimpanzes are better than adult humans in a memory task.

The fact clearly tells that the human-animal dichotomy is wrong.

Human is a member of animal kingdom.

Even more, the dichotomy of human vs nature may be wrong.

Human is a part of nature.

We are connected to all the other creatures.

Photo by Matt Burrard-Lucas.

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