Intelligent Animals. Monkeys Know how to Add. Math is Fun and Macaques too!

Intelligent Animals. Monkeys Know how to Add. Math is Fun and Macaques too!
Ignacio Zara

Intelligent animals. Macaque monkeys share with humans about 97.5% of their genes. Now, a new study shows arithmetic skills in macaques.

Intelligent Animals. Monkeys Know how to Add. Math is Fun and Macaques too!

Baby macaque. Photo by Steve Linster

A new research, published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), showed that when they are trained in the long term, these monkeys are able to add numbers and perform simple calculations to estimate what quantities are greater, because choosing the largest sum their reward was bigger too.

The study was conducted with three Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta). They were between four and five years old when it began their intensive learning process, which lasted for three years. It consisted of individual sessions from two to four hours a day, seven days a week.

Instead of banana chips, scientists offered to them liquid droplets. First they used water and then, when they were filled, juice to add motivation.

Exercises were performed on a touch screen, and monkeys had two options. They also taught them to associate 26 abstract symbols with different rewards. A symbol meant 20 drops and other 19 drops. Monkeys touched the bigger number in 90% of proofs when scientists displayed on the touch screen two symbols, because it meant a greater number of drops.

Afterwards, they began to show couples of symbols. The number of drops that the monkey received it was the sum of the quantities represented by the two symbols. Of course, in most of the proofs, they chose the most advantageous option.

Remember that these animals have been involved in all types of studies of animal behavior, as an experiment that revealed that they were able to recognize their image in a mirror, and they have also participated in space missions of NASA and of the Russian agency in the 50s and 60s.

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Ignacio Zara

Assistant Managing Editor at Yareah® Magazine

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