Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Are memory researchers making monkeys of themselves?

It seems Japanese memory researchers have tested young chimpanzees against University students and found that the chimps perform better in certain memory tests than the students.

Now I am not normally a betting man, but in this case I would be prepared to bet that they didn’t even think about testing the chimps against non, or pre-literate people.

I recall reading a study, or article, some years back - but I can’t remember ;-) where now - that showed non and pre-literate people performed significantly better in certain similar memory tests. It was concluded that this was because literate people, being able to and used to writing down what they wanted to ‘remember’ didn’t need to practice and develop their memory in that way. Conversely in certain other sorts of memory test literate people performed better.

I do seem to recall studies on the detrimental impact of cannabis on memory as well...

Dr Tetsuro Matsuzawa innocently said: ”No one can imagine that chimpanzees - young chimpanzees at the age of five - have a better performance in a memory task than humans.” Well, based on the above, one might well do so.

It could be the good Dr would have done better selecting his test subjects from amongst illiterate hunter gatherers.

God knows what the availability of the internet will do to us…

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