Monkeys Can Do Math


Posted On Jul 20 2019 by

Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe To ensure that the monkeys hadn’t simply memorized every possible combination of symbols and associated a value with the combination—this wouldn’t be true addition—Livingstone’s team next taught the animals an entirely new set of symbols—Tetris-like blocks rather than letters and numbers. With the new symbols, the monkeys were again able to add—this time calculating the value of combinations they’d never seen before and confirming the ability to do basic addition, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.But when Livingstone and colleagues started analyzing the data in more detail—they had the results of hundreds of tests per day for months on end—they realized that the monkeys weren’t 100% accurate. They tended to underestimate a sum compared with a single symbol when the two were close in value—sometimes choosing, for example, a 13 over the sum of eight and six. The underestimation was systematic—when adding two numbers, the monkeys always paid attention to the larger of the two, and then added only a fraction of the smaller number to it. The monkeys’ systematic errors argue against one theory of how the mammalian brain processes numbers. “What they’re doing is paying more attention to the big number than the little one,” Livingstone explains. But the altered values weren’t tied intrinsically to the symbols. If eight was the larger of two numbers in a sum, then its full value was considered, but if it was being added to a larger number, its value was diminished. One prevailing theory on number representation—dubbed logarithmic encoding—had proposed that the brain always underestimates the value of larger numbers in a systematic and unchangeable way. In such a case, the value of eight wouldn’t vary based on the situation as Livingstone observed.“They’ve shown that it’s very unlikely that there’s some kind of logarithmic encoding of numbers,” says psychologist David Burr of the University of Florence in Italy, who was not involved in the new work. Further research on how humans and monkeys estimate the value of numbers, and how this plays a role in the brain’s ability to add two values, could shed light on dyscalculia—a human learning disability specific to mathematics. Children with dyscalculia often have trouble not only adding numbers, but quickly guessing how many objects are in a group. Together with the new results on rhesus macaques, this suggests that estimating values is key to the ability to add.“Being able to estimate obviously has survival value; you want to be able to glance up and see how many lions are about to attack you,” Burr says. “The remaining goal is developing a model to explain how that happens in the brain.” It looks like a standardized test question: Is the sum of two numbers on the left or the single number on the right larger? Rhesus macaques that have been trained to associate numerical values with symbols can get the answer right, even if they haven’t passed a math class. The finding doesn’t just reveal a hidden talent of the animals—it also helps show how the mammalian brain encodes the values of numbers.Previous research has shown that chimpanzees can add single-digit numbers. But scientists haven’t explained exactly how, in the human or the monkey brain, numbers are being represented or this addition is being carried out. Now, a new study helps begin to answer those questions.Neurobiologist Margaret Livingstone of Harvard Medical School in Boston and her colleagues had already taught three rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) in the lab to associate the Arabic numbers 0 through 9 and 15 select letters with the values zero through 25. When given the choice between two symbols, monkeys reliably chose the larger to get a correspondingly larger number of droplets of water, apple juice, or orange soda as a reward. To test whether the monkeys could add these values, the researchers began giving them a choice between a sum and a single symbol rather than two single symbols. Within 4 months, the monkeys had learned how the task worked and were able to effectively add two symbols and compare the sum to a third, single symbol. Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)

Last Updated on: July 20th, 2019 at 5:23 am, by


Written by admin


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *