Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Individual primates display variation in general intelligence

18.06.2009
Researchers demonstrate differing cognitive abilities within a single primate species

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!
Further information:
http://www.harvard.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>