All the study participants watched 30 minutes of the Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, listening to the dialogue through headphones. The humans watched it once and the monkeys saw it six times, during which the participants’ eye movements were scanned and their neural activity monitored via functional magnetic resonance imaging.
The researchers found some similarities in brain activity locations among the species, but several differences, too. Monkey brain areas that fired up during movements on screen were quiescent in the humans, yet both species shared activity in other areas. This is a function of the species‘ separate evolutions — brain regions that may once have been very similar have adapted to focus on different tasks.
“The method may clarify whether specific functions are preserved in areas that anatomically correspond, are absent in one of the two species, or are shifted to other cortical locations,” Mantini and colleagues wrote. This, in turn, could shed light on how human cognitive function evolved, as compared to cognitive function in our closest cousins.
Which movie would you compel monkeys to watch?
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