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Chimps have faster working memory than humans

Last Updated: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 16:19

London: Chimpanzees take a fraction of a second to memorise something that would take several seconds for humans to remember, a study has claimed.

A scientist from Japan demonstrated the prowess of chimps in remembering in less than half a second the precise position and correct sequence of up to nine numbers on a computer screen.

In the experiment, the numbers are shown together randomly distributed on a computer screen and as soon as the chimps press the number "one" the rest of the numerals are masked.

However, the chimps can almost invariably remember where each numeral was.

Tetsuro Matsuzawa, a primatologist at Kyoto University said that it is impossible for people to do the same cognitive task that quickly, the Independent reported.

He carried out the experiments on a female chimp called Ai and Ayumu, her son - born in 2000 - who has shown even better memory skills.

Matsuzawa suggested that they developed this part of their memory as they live in the "here and now" while humans are thinking more about the past and planning for the future.

In the wild they also have to make very quick spatial decisions like the exact positions in a tree of ripe fruit and the precise location of potential enemies in a rival troupe of chimps, he added.


First Published: Friday, February 15, 2013 - 13:19

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