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Baboons 'Recognize Written Words'
The Local ^ | 13 Apr 2012

Posted on 04/15/2012 12:03:48 PM PDT by nickcarraway

Baboons can recognize scores of written words, a feat that raises intriguing questions about how we learn to read, scientists reported on Thursday.

In a specially-made facility in France where they could come and go at will, monkeys learned to differentiate between a real word, such as KITE, and a nonsense word such as ZEVS.

The baboons had access to a large enclosure with several touch-sensitive computer screens, each projecting a four-letter word.

The animals had to tap one of two shapes on the screen to show that they understood whether the word was a real one or garble.

Choosing the real word got them a tempting reward of food – a pellet of dry wheat that came from an automatic dispenser.

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 memorizing the word ... but had learned to discriminate words from nonwords on the basis of differences in the frequency of letter combinations."

The champion speller was a baboon called Dan, who learned 308 words, around three times as many as his chums.

There was no sign that the animals actually understood the meaning of the words.

But the fact that they learned to distinguish one word from another opens insights into the acquisition of reading.

According to a popular theory, we humans learn to recognize words thanks to speech – we process the sequence of letters into words by building on the sequence of sounds in speech.

But the baboons do not speak any human language, which means the speech hypothesis "may be at best incomplete and possibly wrong," said Michael Platt and Geoffrey Adams of Duke University in North Carolina in a commentary also carried by Science.

That leaves the field open for a rival theory: that there are brain circuits which evolved to support other functions – and we share this circuitry with our primate cousins.

One possible candidate is the visual word form area (VWFA), in the occipitotemporal sulcus region of the brain.

If so, the evidence of cerebral versatility is reassuring news for people with reading difficulties.

"The observation that the neural circuits involved in reading and writing are not hard-wired may explain why most people with dyslexia can learn to read," said Platt and Adams.

"The very plasticity that enabled humans to invent reading and writing can be harnessed to overcome dysfunctions in the underlying neural circuitry."


TOPICS: Pets/Animals; Science
KEYWORDS: baboon; words

1 posted on 04/15/2012 12:03:50 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: nickcarraway
"The very plasticity that enabled humans to invent reading and writing can be harnessed to overcome dysfunctions in the underlying neural circuitry."

OMG, don't let the gay lobby hear this.

3 posted on 04/15/2012 12:10:09 PM PDT by Albion Wilde ("Real men are not threatened by strong women." -- Sarah Palin)
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: nickcarraway

This isn’t earth shattering but what is is the so many humans refuse to believe animals have any sense at all.


5 posted on 04/15/2012 12:11:37 PM PDT by bgill
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To: nickcarraway

Run this one by them: WHY BUTT PINK?


6 posted on 04/15/2012 12:11:45 PM PDT by Keli Kilohana (Editor, ZARR CHASM CHRONICAL [sic], Sore, WV)
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To: bgill; nickcarraway
This is just the sort of thing that leaves the professional evolutionists churning in the dust ~ so, uhh, baboons can tell the difference between real words and fake words ~ and the evolutionary pathway guided by natural selection leads to that process how?

The Creationists also have a problem ~ just why did God give baboons the power of reading but not speaking, writing, or even understanding what the words mean?

Like, they been cheated dude!

7 posted on 04/15/2012 12:22:03 PM PDT by muawiyah
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

To: bgill

what is is the so many humans refuse to believe animals have any sense at all/

OWS and libs in general

On the serious side I do believe animals are smart, some smarter than most humans I know.


9 posted on 04/15/2012 12:24:13 PM PDT by mardi59 ( Go Newt!!)
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To: nickcarraway


"He called me a baboon, thinks I'm his Wife!"


10 posted on 04/15/2012 12:31:30 PM PDT by reagan_fanatic (2012 isn't an election - it's a restraining order.)
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To: nickcarraway

If they open a machine shop, give me a call.


11 posted on 04/15/2012 12:32:42 PM PDT by dainbramaged (OMG - Obama Must Go)
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To: nickcarraway; a fool in paradise

Heck, some of them have signed up as members here!


12 posted on 04/15/2012 12:38:24 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Let us prey!)
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To: nickcarraway

The claim that “Zevs” is a “nonsense” word might come as a shock to the French street artist named “Zevs”.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zevs_(artist)


13 posted on 04/15/2012 12:40:39 PM PDT by kathsua (A woman can do anything a man can do and have babies besides.)
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To: nickcarraway
they recognize shapes not words...
14 posted on 04/15/2012 1:01:36 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: nickcarraway
The champion speller was a baboon called Dan, who learned 308 words, around three times as many as his chums.

This baboon was probably homeschooled / s

15 posted on 04/15/2012 1:06:21 PM PDT by Popman (America is squandering its wealth on riotous living, war, and welfare.)
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To: Chode

Amazing ~ “shapes”, not “words”, but I can recognize “shapes” as well, and there are good shapes and bad shapes. Miss Venezuela is a “hotty” as well ~ see: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&sugexp=eqn,rate_low%3D0.006,rate_high%3D0.006,min_length%3D2&qe=bWlzcyB2ZW4&qesig=ekJ3OnUrfnlET_E772YO8Q&pkc=AFgZ2tkjIWMbxrv_csOj_yFLxkgTxiNUrTCvDbfioB5iiyGShtiu_y3uK9p7JdMo15i-nhoSGT1txiUtD4UW1MPER4cp1ZdOXw&cp=8&gs_id=w&xhr=t&q=miss+venezuela&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1920&bih=993&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=LiqLT8b5KqrD2QXF4_XHCQ


16 posted on 04/15/2012 1:10:11 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: nickcarraway
They learned to distinguish scores of words, identifying them with an accuracy of 75 percent,

Hmmm....how does a baboon "learn" a word and not remember it later ?

Someone posted up thread said they recognize shapes not the words...seems the 75 % number would make sense sense that letter as shapes in a minimum of 4 "letters " would confuse them....if only one letter was different in the sequence

17 posted on 04/15/2012 1:13:30 PM PDT by Popman (America is squandering its wealth on riotous living, war, and welfare.)
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Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

To: nickcarraway

When they are able to connect particular words to concepts and then use them as their basic means of survival, then I will be impressed


19 posted on 04/15/2012 1:15:23 PM PDT by mjp ((pro-{God, reality, reason, egoism, individualism, natural rights, limited government, capitalism}))
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To: muawiyah
oh yeah...
20 posted on 04/15/2012 1:21:04 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: muawiyah
here's a thought: suppose monkeys are what humans become when they reject the Truth: devolution, not evolution.

Like, they been cheated dude!

Ha! Indeed.

21 posted on 04/15/2012 1:22:38 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (I think in about 5 - no, 4 - years I'll have had enough.)
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To: nickcarraway

So, you’re saying they can read a teleprompter?


22 posted on 04/15/2012 1:23:38 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (I think in about 5 - no, 4 - years I'll have had enough.)
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To: nickcarraway

Must be why even democrats can vote..


23 posted on 04/15/2012 1:24:14 PM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole...)
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To: nickcarraway

This really IS good news.
The next conservative administration can replace all those worthless and dangerous bureaucrats with baboons. I hear they work for peanuts and they smell better.


24 posted on 04/15/2012 2:13:38 PM PDT by Dick Bachert (I really want Obozo to have another term -- in Leavenworth! 25 to life sounds about right.)
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To: nickcarraway

25 posted on 04/15/2012 2:19:03 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion ("Of two evils, choose neither." -- Charles Spurgeon)
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Comment #26 Removed by Moderator

To: nickcarraway
We now can expect baboons being recruited to vote democrat.

If they push the Obama button they get a free banana.

Hell, they would fit right in with the current crop of Obama voters.

27 posted on 04/15/2012 2:58:28 PM PDT by SWAMPSNIPER (The Second Amendment, a Matter of Fact, Not a Matter of Opinion)
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To: the invisib1e hand

That’s currently the official view of Islam.


28 posted on 04/15/2012 3:17:54 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah

the truth will probably surprise people.


29 posted on 04/15/2012 3:21:20 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (I think in about 5 - no, 4 - years I'll have had enough.)
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Comment #30 Removed by Moderator

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