Monkey BrainsWritten by Andrea Campbell
Youíre a primate, Iím a primate, monkeys are primates!
Even before release of my book Bringing Up Ziggy, I was studying all aspects of primates. And Iím not alone. By observing other levels of primate order in behavior and learning, we often discover many similarities between ourselves and our closest biological species.
Psychological researchers at Columbia University conducted tests showing that rhesus monkeys can decipher difference between one, two and three. Now, Elizabeth M. Brannon, Ph.D. and Herbert S. Terrace, Ph.D., both psychologists at Columbia, designed experiments to discern whether monkeys could learn rules for putting objects into categories, and then apply those rules to a new set of objects.
Not so surprising to me, scientists found that animals can not only be taught to count but actually understand concept of numbers. The results of this new research was published in January issue of Journal of Experimental Psychology.
For this particular study, researchers created computer displays with numbers one, two, three and four using visual objects such as circles, ellipses, squares or diamonds of varying size and color. Three monkeys were then taught to touch each display in numerical order, for example, using a two in ascending order, one in descending order.
Overtime, monkeys were trained on some 35 different displays. Assessing their continued progress, researchers then tested monkeys on 150 new displays, only to find their performance did not falter.
In order to check their efforts, scientists needed to determine whether monkeys actually understood relationship between numbers. This time, monkeys were tested using pairs of numbers they had never seen before--five, six, seven, eight and nine.
The results are quite illuminating as one who knows primates would think they should be. In first round of testing with higher numbers, both monkeys who had been trained to respond in ascending numerical order arranged new numbers correctly 75 per cent of time.
Art From an Unlikely ArtistWritten by Andrea Campbell
Art From an Unlikely Artist
Amanda makes good money for her art, hundreds of dollars on some pieces. Her particular style is strictly abstract and she exhibits some unorthodox mannerisms, but her work garners attention of many. Sometimes artist sleeps late and only paints once a week. If inspiration strikes and she does not have her supplies though, she shows her frustration by spitting and acting out! Well, what would you expect from a 100-pound orangutan? Typically, her studio is littered with banana peels and other stuff lying around rotting, but she like to climbs up, up, up into a cargo net to greet visitors. Amanda lives at Como Zoo in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her Como Zoo keeper, Mike Thell, says that Sumatran/Bornean orangutan started painting in June as part of zooís enrichment program. Animals in this zoo and others across country, experience different incentive enhancements as well: there are gorillas who have to maneuver their treats out of plastic bottles, a polar bear who has to scratch his way through a block of ice to get his fish, and lions who get to roll around in their favorite herbs and spices. Animal behavior experts have discovered that by supplying work for animals, whether that means foraging for food, navigating their terrain, or simply doing unlikely projects like Amanda, animals fare better and exhibit a "psychological well being."
The intelligent, antsy Amanda just kind of took to painting after only a few demonstrations about what to do with brush and paints from less-talented humans around her. Because she thrives as a result of her painting, every so often bottles of nontoxic poster paint and thick sheets of paper are pushed up to her chain-link fence. Part of Amandaís technique is to dip a fat paint brush into bright, primary colors and, after each thoughtful stroke on paper, she will cleanse brush in her mouth! Blue is a favorite hue. Several minutes of inspired painting take place and then she hands her brush back to Thell, licks excess paint with her pointed tongue, and its done. "She usually gives it tongue signature," Thell says. It does take some coaxing to get Amanda to part with her work, but she will eventually push her creation under cage door for retrieval. She is further rewarded for her efforts with either orange juice or a box of Kool-Aid, which she receives for every painting she completes.