Forget Robots, Chimps Can Smoke the Human Brain in Ways You Couldn’t Even Imagine!

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You might have thought that robots would bring about the end of humanity. There are countless examples in the mainstream media that suggest the same. However, it seems like we have ignored the skills that Mother Nature has gifted living beings with—living beings other than humans, that is!

A Breakthrough in Findings on Animal Intelligence

Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa of the Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute demonstrated animal intelligence at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He unveiled The Ai Project which exposed the superior visual working memory of young chimpanzees when compared to that of human beings!

Researchers put three pairs of mother and infant chimpanzees to the test. Numerals from 1 to 9 were shown on a touchscreen monitor that had been attached to a computer. Blank squares replaced the numerals within the wink of an eye. Thereafter, the primates had to select the boxes in an appropriate order to unearth the numbers in a proper sequence.

All Hail, Ayumu!

The chimpanzees have shown that they have outstanding short-term memory. It helps them to easily remember the location and order of the nine digits that are shown on the screen. It explains their enhanced abilities to survive in the wild!

It’s not just hanging from those branches, throwing bananas, and beating the chest with closed fists that helps them outsmart predators! Ask Ayumu yourself! The offspring of Ai, on whom the project has been named, is able to memorize the numbers and their locations within half a second! For those of you who don’t know, it takes more time to blink an eye!

Apes vs. Humans

Scientists have attributed their ability to a powerful faculty of eidetic imagery. In other words, it is the capacity of their memory to retain accurate details of a complex image or pattern.

There were university students who excitedly volunteered to undergo the experiment against the apes. Needless to mention, the students were no match for the chimps. The apes were able to grasp the matter displayed on the screen within a shorter ‘hold duration’.

By ‘hold duration’ we mean the amount of time that the numbers were actually visible on the screen.

The researchers observed that the frequency of mistakes in humans increased with a decrease in hold duration. That, however, was not the matter with showstoppers like Ayumu. They were able to perform equally well with the varying time limits imposed on the display of pictures—650, 430, or 210 milliseconds.

Lost in Evolution

The apes use their ability of photographic memory, as mentioned above. Scientists are of the view that humans lost this ability in the course of evolution. That may be the reason behind children being better at it than adults.

The power of representation and symbolization is our forte. For the apes, it’s all about the use of memory.

How can It Shape Our Future?

Well, all that we can say is that we were least expecting apes to outdo us in this field. Try to think of all the associated factors. Not only are they able to maneuver touchscreen machines but also with a swiftness that we can’t match!

Take a moment to gulp down the fact that we are 98.77% chimpanzee! It can’t take too long for them to catch up to the other activities that govern human life! Who knows about the next revelation? Can we really vouch that chimps won’t be sitting in cushioned seats at office desks in the near future?

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Image courtesy of Aritra | Publish India™


A literary enthusiast and bibliophile by nature, he is an ardent lover of themes related to politics, modernism and postmodernism. He has a penchant for associating himself with issues that concern the society at large. He nurses dreams of being a flaneur one day and walk in the shoes of Shakti Chattopadhyay, Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire!