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article imageMonkeys can do math

By Tim Sandle     Apr 26, 2014 in Science
A new study has shown that monkeys trained to recognize number values can add-up and do simple sums. The researchers think that being able to estimate has survival value for monkey populations in the wild.
The research team looking at 'monkey math' was led by Margaret Livingstone of Harvard Medical School. According to Science Now, the researchers had previously taught a group of male rhesus monkeys to associate numbers or letters with the numerical values 0 to 25 and to recognize the larger of two values in order to get a reward.
With the new study, the results showed that the monkeys could choose the larger value when presented with a choice between a sum of two number symbols and a single number symbol. To ensure that the monkeys were not memorizing combinations of symbols, the researchers taught the monkeys a new set of symbols made up of block-like shapes rather than numbers and letters. With this, the monkeys again learned how to add the symbols.
Commenting on the findings, Livingstone told NBC News: "The monkeys want the most of whatever is out there, and this is just one of many ways to figure out the best way to get the most."
The findings have been published in the journal PNAS, in a paper titled "Symbol addition by monkeys provides evidence for normalized quantity coding".
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