Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Young Chimps Top Adult Humans In Numerical Memory

Date:
December 9, 2007
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Young chimpanzees have an "extraordinary" ability to remember numerals that is superior to that of human adults, researchers report. The researchers said they believe that the young chimps' newfound ability to top humans in the numerical memory task is "just a part of the very flexible intelligence of young chimpanzees."

Young chimpanzees could grasp many numerals at a glance, with no change in performance as the hold duration -- the amount of time that the numbers remained on the screen -- was varied, the researchers found.
Credit: iStockphoto/Peter-John Freeman

Young chimpanzees have an "extraordinary" ability to remember numerals that is superior to that of human adults, researchers report.

"There are still many people, including many biologists, who believe that humans are superior to chimpanzees in all cognitive functions," said Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University. "No one can imagine that chimpanzees--young chimpanzees at the age of five--have a better performance in a memory task than humans. Here we show for the first time that young chimpanzees have an extraordinary working memory capability for numerical recollection--better than that of human adults tested in the same apparatus, following the same procedure."

Chimpanzee memory has been extensively studied, the researchers said. The general assumption is that, as with many other cognitive functions, it is inferior to that of humans. However, some data have suggested that, in some circumstances, chimpanzee memory may indeed be superior to human memory.

In the current study, the researchers tested three pairs of mother and infant chimpanzees (all of which had already learned the ascending order of Arabic numerals from 1 to 9) against university students in a memory task of numerals. One of the mothers, named Ai, was the first chimpanzee who learned to use Arabic numerals to label sets of real-life objects with the appropriate number.

In the new test, the chimps or humans were briefly presented with various numerals from 1 to 9 on a touch-screen monitor. Those numbers were then replaced with blank squares, and the test subject had to remember which numeral appeared in which location and touch the squares in the appropriate order.

The young chimpanzees could grasp many numerals at a glance, with no change in performance as the hold duration--the amount of time that the numbers remained on the screen--was varied, the researchers found. In general, the performance of the three young chimpanzees was better than that of their mothers. Likewise, adult humans were slower than all of the three young chimpanzees in their response. For human subjects, they showed that the percentage of correct trials also declined as a function of the hold duration--the shorter the duration became, the worse their accuracy was.

Matsuzawa said the chimps' memory ability is reminiscent of "eidetic imagery," a special ability to retain a detailed and accurate image of a complex scene or pattern. Such a "photographic memory" is known to be present in some normal human children, and then the ability declines with the age, he added.

The researchers said they believe that the young chimps' newfound ability to top humans in the numerical memory task is "just a part of the very flexible intelligence of young chimpanzees."

The researchers include Sana Inoue and Tetsuro Matsuzawa, of Kyoto University, Japan. This research was published in the December 4th issue of Current Biology, a publication of Cell Press.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Young Chimps Top Adult Humans In Numerical Memory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071203094823.htm>.
Cell Press. (2007, December 9). Young Chimps Top Adult Humans In Numerical Memory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071203094823.htm
Cell Press. "Young Chimps Top Adult Humans In Numerical Memory." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071203094823.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) A study for University College London suggests obese people who are discriminated against gain more weight than those who are not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins