learns from chimp expert Sally Boysen.
"Chimp Minds," Alan Alda describes two different experiments
designed to demonstrate chimpanzees' ability to think abstractly.
At the Center for Orangutan and Chimpanzee Conservation in
Wauchula, FL, psychologist David
Bjorklund tests two young chimps for their ability to
Bjorklund and his colleagues present the chimps with objects
paired up in such a way that tests the animals' expectations.
For instance, the chimps are first shown a stuffed blackbird
being stroked like a real bird, then a stuffed blackbird being
used like a screwdriver. Immediately, the chimps recognize
something is "off" about the screwdriver blackbird. The carefully
controlled tests eventually trip up six-year-old Noelle, but
not Grub, who demonstrates that, by age nine, chimps have
a solid concept about the way things should be.
log treated like a baby? Older chimps can tell that
this is unusual.
her lab at Ohio State University, Sally
Boysen demonstrates how chimpanzees can think abstractly.
Boysen shows the adult chimp Sheeba a miniature version of
a room. The chimp then watches as Boysen hides a tiny can
of soda in the cupboard in the model room. Next, Boysen hides
a real can of soda in the life-sized version of the same room.
Sheeba has no trouble making the leap. Seventeen-year-old
Sheeba easily finds the can of soda, something human children
must at least three-years-old to figure out. This type of
abstract thinking is just one more way our closest cousins
are like us.
more on this topic, see the web feature:
are They Thinking?