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!
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences