quote:Baboons can recognise scores of written words, a feat that raises intriguing questions about how we learn to read, scientists report.
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'.
quote:They learned to distinguish scores of words, identifying them with an accuracy of 75 per cent, according to the study led by Jonathan Grainger at the Cognitive Research Laboratory at France's Aix-Marseille University .
quote:"More detailed analysis revealed that baboons were not simply memorising the word ... but had learned to discriminate words from non-words on the basis of differences in the frequency of letter combinations."
I haven't read the study (because I would have to buy it), but I wonder if this isn't more about pattern matching than word recognition. All animals depend on that facility in order to engage successfully with their environment. Isolating a changeable set of lines and arcs into recognizable groupings doesn't sound like a real breakthrough to me. The authors themselves apparently say that the baboons didn't assign meanings to individual words, but were rewarded with food when they selected the real word out of the displayed group. But since I won't get to read the article I am just speculating.
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Didn't they eventually determine that Koko, the chimp who did sign language, was relying on facial cues from the testers? I wonder if they screened that out.
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