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In what seems like a blow for humanity, a very smart chimpanzee in Japan crushes any human challenger at a number memory game. After the numbers 1 through 9 make a split-second appearance on a computer screen, the chimp, Ayumu, gets to work. His bulky index finger flies gracefully across the screen, tapping white squares where the numbers had appeared, in order. So far, no human has topped him.
Ayumu’s talent caused a stir when researchers first reported it in 2007 (SN: 12/8/2007, p. 355). Since then, the chimp’s feat has grown legendary, even earning him a starring role in a recent BBC documentary.
But psychologist Nicholas Humphrey says the hype may be overblown. In an upcoming Trends in Cognitive Sciences essay, Humphrey floats a different explanation for Ayumu’s superlative performance, one that leaves humans’ memory skills unimpugned: Ayumu might have a curious brain condition that allows him to see numbers in colors. If Humphrey’s wild idea is right, the chimpanzee’s feat has nothing to do with memory.
“When you get extraordinary results, you need to look for extraordinary ideas to explain them,” says Humphrey, of Darwin College at Cambridge University in England.
Humphrey’s explanation is “speculative, in the best sense of the word,” says neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran of the University of California, San Diego. Work in his lab has found that synesthesia can give people an edge on visual tasks — the cross-wiring in the brain helps them remember better.
Matsuzawa, who has worked closely for decades with Ayumu and other chimps that excel on these number tasks, is convinced that the animals really do have a superior working memory compared with humans.
Originally posted by Mr Headshot
Interesting, but I think this scientist has a point to prove. I believe a human could do the same, if trained. I mean, we can memorize entire Shakespearean plays in a day or two, line for line. It can be done. I see no reason why a human couldn't take a mental snapshot of a screen and recall it; especially if that's all you did for a decade or however long this chimp has been doing this.
Originally posted by Mr Headshot
reply to post by thegagefather
Yes, what did actors do in the middle ages when memorizing lines, they stored the words in short term memory.
Again, I see no reason why we couldn't memorize a screen in a very rapid fashion and repeat it. Just a quick mental screencap.
Just reread the article, psychologist said he may be seeing the numbers as colors but nobody can know for sure, since the researcher conducting the experiment wont test that.edit on 20-6-2012 by Mr Headshot because: (no reason given)
Originally posted by 13th Zodiac
That's nothing.I've seen pig's so smart,they can almost pass for human.edit on 20-6-2012 by 13th Zodiac because: (no reason given)
Originally posted by Miccey
Pigs ARE human, just check their genom
Personally, I feel like Humphrey is offended by the idea that a chimp could be in any way superior to man.. But if you're not one of those crazy ancient-ET subscribers and you believe that science isn't just all lies, you have to acknowledge the fact that we're just another type of primate.
There's a researcher trying to disprove the "less evolved" primate's innate memory recollection abilities, and the article goes into a bit more detail on the subject if you're interested, but here's a snippet.