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Chimps beat college students in memory test

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image Morguefile photo: Taken at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Cleveland, OH.

In a recent study a Japanese researcher used short-term memory tests to compare the cognitive abilities between chimps and college students. The chimps won. (video) 

Tetsuro Matsuzawa, director of the Primate Research Institute at Japan’s Kyoto University, has been studying chimpanzees and chimpanzee communities for 30 years.

In his official bio at the university he compares the genomic difference between humans as comparable to the difference between horses and zebras and suggests humans are “98.77% chimpanzee.” He has long made the case that humans and chimpanzees are close genetic relatives and that they should co-exist peacefully.

To demonstrate their cognitive strengths, Matsuzawa taught three chimps, ages one through five, to recognize numbers one through nine. The test involved random flashing numbers on a touch screen computer. After a fraction of a second, the numbers were masked by white squares. The chimps were able to remember the location of up to eight of the numbers, and touch the spot where they had appeared in the correct order. But the college undergrads who volunteered for the study could only accurately recall the location of up to five numbers.

Matsuzawa opposes the use of primates in biomedical research and helped launch SAGA (Support for African/Asian Great Apes) in 1998. SAGA promotes conservation of chimpanzee, gorilla and orangutan natural habitats and supports non-invasive scientific inquiry.


Subscribe to comments feed Comments (4 posted):

valentines day gift ideas on 12/12/2009 00:29:24
I would say this is hysterical. Of course, the chimps had better short term memory. They weren't busy text messaging during their course of study...
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cabinets online on 05/17/2010 14:41:54
Next, they should do chimps vs MIT students.
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anthony morrison on 05/20/2010 23:59:44
It is hysterical. Of course, chimpanzees have better short-term memory. They are not busy text messaging during their study.Now it is an interesting idea. As a species we have not evolved mentally and spiritually.
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nintendo r4 on 06/02/2010 03:57:14
At least Chimps will remember history and will not repeat the same mistakes. It is good Chimps are not too smart otherwise we all will be in trouble. I saw this on news here yesterday, Couldn't believe it. Amazed.
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