Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Are you as smart as a chimp?
The Science Times reports today that chimps' memory may be superior to humans'. When chimps and humans are quickly presented numbers on a screen, the chimps remembered 80% and the humans 40%. I wonder whether the study controlled for differences in how chimps perceive either quickly presented stimuli or other features of the stimuli's presentation? Dr. Matsuzawa, who conducted the research at Kyoto University, said that the chimps ability reminded him of eidetic memory, commonly called photographic memory. The article raises the notion that with the benefits of language, humans may be crowding out the ability to retain as much information as the chimps do. The chimps are perceiving abstract shapes whereas humans are seeing "numbers" which come with a host of associative meanings that we process upon seeing them whether we intend to or not. It would be interesting to see if a culture that cannot read our numerals would demonstrate performance closer to that of the chimps.