Monday, April 18, 2016

Is your memory better than a chimpanzee's?

Slate ran an excerpt from the latest book by Emory primatologist Frans de Waal, "Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?" De Waal describes how animals "keep surprising us" with their intelligence:

"There is the example of Ayumu, a young male chimpanzee at the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University, in Japan. I watched Ayumu’s incredibly rapid decision-making on a touch screen the way I admire my students typing 10 times faster than me. In 2007, he managed to put human memory to shame by recalling a series of numbers from 1 through 9. He tapped them in the right order, even though the numbers appeared randomly on the screen and were quickly replaced by white squares. Having memorized the locations of all numbers, Ayumu touched the squares in the right order. Reducing the amount of time the numbers flashed on the screen didn’t bother him in the least, even though humans become less accurate the shorter the interval. Trying the task myself, I was unable to keep track of more than five numbers after staring at the screen for many seconds, while Ayumu did the same after having seen the numbers for just one-fifth of a second—literally the bat of an eye."

Read the full book excerpt at Slate.

Asian elephants reassure others in distress

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