Scientists at Harvard University have shown, for the first time, that intelligence varies among individual monkeys within a species – in this case, the cotton-top tamarin.
Testing for broad cognitive ability, the researchers identified high, middle, and low performing monkeys, determined by a general intelligence score. General intelligence, or "g," is a hallmark of human cognition, often described as similar to IQ. The effect of "g" in primates may offer insight into the evolution of human general intelligence.
The study, published this week in the journal PLoS One, is the first to examine differences of broad cognitive ability in primates within a single species. Previous studies of general intelligence in primates primarily concerned variation between species.
The research was led by Konika Banerjee, a research assistant in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Banerjee's co-authors are Marc Hauser, professor of psychology, and James J. Lee all of Harvard, along with Christopher Chabris of Union College, Fritz Tsao of Hillsdale College, and Valen Johnson of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
"We found that there was substantial individual variation in performance on these tasks," says Banerjee. "A significant proportion of that variation can actually be accounted for by something that looks very similar to the general intelligence, or 'g' factor, in humans. It appears to be the case that tamarins have something very similar to our general intelligence."
General intelligence, or "g," refers to the positive correlation of an individual's performance on various subtasks within an intelligence test. Banerjee and her colleagues found that "g" accounted for 20 percent of the monkeys' performance on the tasks in the study. The remaining 80 percent of the variation in performance was due to task-specific or environmental circumstances in testing the monkeys.
While not a direct comparison, human "g" accounts for 40 to 60 percent of the variation in an individual's performance on the various subtasks of an IQ test. It may be that an increase in the magnitude of "g" was integral to the evolution of the human brain.
"General intelligence is an important component of human intelligence, but it is also possible that it relies upon ancient neural substrates," says Banerjee. "If different primate taxa differ in the magnitude of 'g,' with humans standing out from the rest of the pack, this might help explain how we, uniquely, can combine thoughts from different domains of knowledge to create new representations of the world. This cognitive domain general ability, captured by 'g,' is something that you might see to varying degrees in other primate taxa."
This study was conducted among 22 cotton-top tamarins, who were administered 11 unique tasks designed to assess different cognitive functions including working memory, executive control, information processing speed, and inhibitory control. For some tasks, the monkeys' goal was to obtain a piece of food, but this was not the case for all of the tasks. Monkeys with higher "g" scores tended to outperform monkeys with lower scores across the various subtasks in the cognitive task battery.
This particular set of tasks was developed for this study, but Banerjee hopes that it or other similar task batteries might be applied to future studies of primate general intelligence, to develop a standardized test for cognitive ability that could be administered to many species.
"We called our cognitive task battery the 'monkey IQ test' very crudely," says Banerjee. "It's a fun way to think about it, but to be more accurate, I would say that we are looking at global cognitive ability across an array of tasks that span multiple cognitive domains."
The research was funded by the Harvard College Research Program and the Goelet Fund to Banerjee, and from grants to Hauser from the McDonnell Foundation and NSF.
Amy Lavoie | EurekAlert!
Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
26.06.2017 | Life Sciences
26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
26.06.2017 | Information Technology