Chimps as Smart as Humans

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Metacognitive Monitoring

A study published in the journal Cognition stated that researchers from the Georgia State University have found that chimpanzees share the capacity of metacognitive monitoring with humans. Metacognitive monitoring is a form of cognitive control that underlines intelligent decision making across species.

The study reports that just like humans chimps are capable of thinking about one’s own thinking and can adjust their behaviour accordingly. Metacognition is a process when individuals are aware of what they know and what they don’t when they seek information they need to know. This is characterised by the level of confidence i.e. high and low confidence when they respond to a particular question. Humans can clearly state their level of confidence. The research team wanted to figure out whether non human animals behaved in the same way as humans.

For this, three chimpanzees were given a series of computerised tests of their memory. During the research, scientists manipulated chimpanzees’ memories to be strong or weak after they completed the test by varying the kind of things they need to remember and how long they are required to remember them. Each memory test followed a short delay before the computer gave a feedback on whether the answers given by the chimpanzees were correct or not. If the answer was correct, a food reward was delivered. The interesting part of the study was that the rewards were delivered away from where the chimps were taking the test. The chimps had two option- either they could wait to hear whether their answer was correct or not or they could hurry to the location to collect their reward even before the computer gave a feedback.

During the research, chimpanzees continuously demonstrated the strength of their memories and acted accordingly. It was found that the chimps were more likely to rush to the reward area when they knew they had given correct answers.

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