Chimp beats students at computer game

Young chimpanzee can recall number placement better than people can.


A particularly cunning seven-year-old chimp named Ayumu has bested university students at a game of memory. He and two other young chimps recalled the placement of numbers flashed onto a computer screen faster and more accurately than humans.

"It's a very simple fact: chimpanzees are better than us -- at this task," says Tetsuro Matsuzawa, a primatologist at Kyoto University in Japan who led the study.

The work doesn't mean that chimps are 'smarter' than humans, but rather they seem to be better at memorizing a snapshot view of their surroundings -- whether that be numbers on a screen or ripe figs dangling from a tree. Humans may have lost this capacity in exchange for gaining the brainpower to understand language and complex symbols, says Matsuzawa.

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Goodhart9 years ago
Upon viewing this again, it is obvious to me that he has a well developed "photographic" memory. He isn't matching "numbers" per se (not memorizing where the 1 is than counting up; but rather having memorized the sequence of figures or symbols of 1, 2, etc; and I didn't see how long it took him to learn that sequence...but once that is learned, he merely sees a picture or snapshot of the board in his head, and can go from there). We tend to think of numbers and translate them to their meaning : i.e. 1 = single, 2 = dual, 3 = . . . etc. and he doesn't have that interference....that is my theory anyway :-)
guyfrom7up9 years ago
I was amazed at this, he can go so fast! He'd get rocket speed in brain age!
There are idiot savants that can are pretty much "up to speed" in this kind of thing also. What the problem may be is the lack of other "thought distractions" that keep one from concentrating "only on the one subject".
whatsisface9 years ago
Hehe, this made the national news last night over here ;-) I was surprised, that chimp sure is impressive!
Lftndbt9 years ago
Even though it was a limited analysis, that chimp's got his groove on... I'm not sure it's the flaws of the experiement, that we should be so interested with, more-so the possibilities this could hold... ;)
Doctor What9 years ago
I saw this on G4, and for some reason, I can believe it. A college student isn't probably a good test though. If you were going to do an experiment such as this, you would need to gather many different human subjects. You would need many humans from different age levels and many of each level, and the same with the chimps. The study they did just places one monkey against one group of people. It is not scientifically accurate.
royalestel9 years ago
Hmm. I think the findings are interesting but the analysis is lacking. My five year old daughter has better short term recognition and recall than I. She also has a brain that has much fewer connections firmly established. . . .
Agreed, and not only that, we have many more "distractions" mentally. The difference between this chimp and an idiot/savant may be much much less for the same reason.