img.latex_eq { padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; }

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Monkey Math

Elsa Addessi, a researcher at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies in Rome, Italy, has demonstrated a surprisingly advanced concept of numerosity in capuchin monkeys. The test subjects were given coins of differing "value," which could be traded for quantities of peanuts. While some of the animals showed preference for color or quantity, several were able to consistently maximize their payoff. While the monkeys are not technically adding, they are showing both the ability to understand the use of symbols and concepts like "more than" and "less than." This is still pretty impressive considering they diverged from us 65 million years ago.

2 comments:

Ben Fulton said...

As a control, maybe they need to run the test on humans and compare the results...

Andy said...

Capuchins are some of the smartest primates in the world. There is a program in the States right now that trains/domesticates capuchins to become personal assistants to quadriplegics and other severely disabled individuals. These monkeys can microwave food for their masters and do a ton of useful things. From your article, it sounds like they may soon be able to bargain with contractors that come over to your place to give repair estimates :)