Baboon Can "Read"

In the movie Planet of the Apes">Planet of the Apes, intelligent apes took over Earth - actually, that may not be too farfetched, as researchers recently discovered that monkeys can "read" words:

The six baboons used the computers up to 3,000 times a day, notching up an average total of 50,000 "trials" over a month and a half.

They learned to distinguish scores of words, identifying them with an accuracy of 75 percent, according to the study led by Jonathan Grainger at the Cognitive Research Laboratory at France's Aix-Marseille University.

There were 500 real words and 7,832 nonsense ones in the data bank.

"This ... is a remarkable result, given the level of orthographic similarity between the word and nonword," according to the paper, published by the US journal Science.

"More detailed analysis revealed that baboons were not simply memorising the word ... but had learned to discriminate words from nonwords on the basis of differences in the frequency of letter combinations."

Link (Photo: J.Fagot/AFP/CNRS)

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@Fae - True enough, as far as the monkey is concerned all the "words" are merely instances of a Class. There is nothing that seems to indicate in this synopsis that the monkey's recognize the Class of objects as consisting of speech. However, there are other studies, and perhaps in this study as well, in which the monkey's are in active dialogue with researchers through the words they are being taught. The extent of this dialogue is usually that the researcher issues a command like "Get the red ball" and the monkey's get the red ball. They mix it up a bit and say "Get the blue ball" or "Get the red block" and the monkeys interpret the command correctly.
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