Monkeys performed about as well as college students at mental addition, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a finding that suggests nonverbal math skills are not unique to humans.
The research from Duke University follows the finding by Japanese researchers earlier this month that young chimpanzees performed better than human adults at a memory game…
…”This is the first study that looked at whether or not they could make explicit decisions that were based on mathematical types of calculations,” said Jessica Cantlon, a cognitive neuroscience researcher at Duke, whose work appeared in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Biology (www.plosbiology.org).
“It shows when you take language away from a human, they end up looking just like monkeys in terms of their performance,” Cantlon said in a telephone interview.
Her study pitted the monkey math team of Boxer and Feinstein — two female macaque monkeys named for U.S. senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California — with 14 Duke University students.
“We had them do math on the fly,” Cantlon said.
As for the teams, both were paid. Boxer and Feinstein got their favorite reward: a sip of Kool-Aid soft drink.
Commenter wrcnossen writes: “And you should see how the rats ‘Pelosi and Reid’ perform.”
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