Are You Smarter Than a Chimpanzee?

Quick, memorize the following numerical sequence: 4,2,7,5,9,1,6,8,3. Now don’t get mad when we tell you a study found that a young chimp probably did this faster than you did (if you could even do it accurately). Tetsuro Matsuzawa from Kyoto University discovered that, “young chimpanzees have an extraordinary working memory capability for numerical recollection–better than that of human adults tested in the same apparatus, following the same procedure.” [Note: We don’t want to get into the details of his study, but if you do it’s available right here] Yes, this is a single example of chimpanzees being able to “out-smart” humans and we don’t intend the point of this post to claim chimps are smarter than we are, but it does relay how human memory is adjusting based on our needs, which are constantly changing with the technology around us.

Growing up I memorized the phone numbers for my closest friends. I memorized them out of near-necessity because it was annoying having to dig them out of a phonebook, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to carry 5lbs of Yellowpages with me. Today I carry a phone book with me at all times in the form of an iPhone. It eliminated the need for me to memorize several series of ten digit numbers. Instead I have replaced this memory with nearly automated gestures that put me in contact with whoever I need to communicate with, no numbers needed. I don’t dial 555-1234 to reach my mom, instead her “phone number” is powerbutton + swipe left to right to unlock phone + Phone Icon + Favorites + 3rd entry from the top.

PS. Please don’t prank call my mom.

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Filed under Evology, human evolution, technology

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