Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New Evidence Shows Apes Can Visually Organize Biological Information like Humans Do

Concept formation -- as in being able to distinguish cats from dogs or to recognize the biological similarities between chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans and categorize them accordingly -- is a way of organizing information based on visual cues, one that humans utilize from an early age. But we are not the only ones. Orangutans, and possibily gorillas, are able to organize information based on visual cues in the same manner as humans, according to new research published in the new open-access journal PeerJ.

The discovery goes against the view that concept formation is dependent on formal training and/or the ability to form verbal labels for such concepts.

Jennifer Vonk, an associate professor of psychology at Oakland University, built upon a previous study where she tested a group of orangutans' and a gorilla's ability to differentiate between different animal species by selecting images on a computer touch-screen. In that experiment, orangutans, but not the gorilla, appeared to learn intermediate level category discriminations, such as primates versus non-primates, more rapidly than they learned concrete level discriminations, such as orangutans versus humans

Full story here.

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