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Chimps Outscore College Students on Memory Test 271

AP's Malcolm Ritter reports that young chimpanzees were better at remembering a series of numbers flashed on a screen, than the Japanese college students used as a control group. Scientists plan to repeat the experiment using 5th graders against the great apes.
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Chimps Outscore College Students on Memory Test

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  • Re:Misleading... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mistlefoot ( 636417 ) on Monday December 03, 2007 @02:24PM (#21562249)
    Why is this post modded (at time of my reply) off-topic. This is exactly what the article says.

    The Chimps are better at "reacting" then people are. That they do as well as humans when the numbers are flashed on the screen for a longer duration is more of a surprise. The more time that is allowed for memorizing, the better humans should do. This doesn't seem to be the case though. Nothing in the article says whether any tests where done, with say, 5 seconds of showing the numbers on the screen - which would really allow for actual thought and not just 'reaction'....
  • by berj ( 754323 ) on Monday December 03, 2007 @02:33PM (#21562371)
    Seems to me that these chimps were trained to perform this task. They've probably even used the test setup before whereas the humans were probably using it for the first time. I guess I'm not surprised that the chimps were faster than the humans

    From the article:

    "Even with six months of training, three students failed to catch up to the three young chimps, Matsuzawa said in an e-mail."

  • Re:Are we surpised? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2007 @02:42PM (#21562485)
    Troll link in parent. Takes over the browser window and plays annoying sound.
  • Re:Mr. Foxworthy... (Score:4, Informative)

    by adamanthaea ( 723150 ) on Monday December 03, 2007 @02:45PM (#21562539)
    "Hello, Fox execs? Yes, I'd like to pitch a new game or reality show entitled 'Are You Smarter Than a Chimpanzee." What? Come on, it's not like you've got anything else worth watching, especially with the writer's strike."
  • Re:Misleading... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Monday December 03, 2007 @02:48PM (#21562571) Journal

    They saw nine numbers displayed on a computer screen. When they touched the first number, the other eight turned into white squares. The test was to touch all these squares in the order of the numbers that used to be there.

    Results showed that the chimps, while no more accurate than the people, could do this faster.

    I requoted that part because the test they are talking about is important.

    If you can see these numbers on the screen for any length of time you want, then "reaction" becomes irrelevant. I interpret this portion of the article to say the chimps could perform at the same accuracy as the humans while taking less time to memorize and recall the numbers' locations. That certainly sounds like "better" short-term memory to me... increased speed without loss of accuracy.

    The SECOND test also involved remembering the location of five numbers on the screen and recalling these locations in the correct order, except the subjects had less than a second to study them. This test indicates that the chimp was again able to memorize the pattern faster and with more accuracy than humans.
  • Re:I Wonder (Score:3, Informative)

    by randyest ( 589159 ) on Monday December 03, 2007 @03:18PM (#21562923) Homepage
    Psst: they have beer in Japan. In kegs even. It's quite popular too.
  • Re:Misleading... (Score:2, Informative)

    by vrmlguy ( 120854 ) <> on Monday December 03, 2007 @04:28PM (#21563785) Homepage Journal

    The chimp just sees a shape, it does not understand what it is and therefore can identify the position of the shapes faster and better then a human.
    Except, these chimps apparently do have some grasp of what the numbers mean. Go look at [] and you'll see that "Two decades have passed since Matsuzawa's team first taught a female chimp, Ai, to recognize and order Arabic numerals. [...] Matsuzawa and Sana Inoue went on to train three pairs of mother chimps and their infants to recognize and remember numerals, as Ai had done."
  • Re:BAC! (Score:3, Informative)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull ( 905905 ) <.marc.paradise. .at.> on Monday December 03, 2007 @05:03PM (#21564183) Homepage Journal

    You declare the research crap without even reading TFA? How scientific! If you had, you'd see that the chimps trained to recognize the numbers (not in recall, just recognizing) for an unspecified period of time; and that the humans practiced the test for six months...

    What's going on here? Even with six months of training, three students failed to catch up to the three young chimps, Matsuzawa said in an e-mail.

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