Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The (Monkey) Business Of Recognizing Words

New research shows that first-graders and baboons have at least one thing in common: Both can tell the difference between actual written words and random sequences of letters...[Jonathan] Grainger says the baboons had to step into a booth and tap the screen. "The first thing that comes up is a string of four letters, which at random could be a real English word or what we call a 'non-word' — a string of letters that's not a real English word," he says. Then the baboons had to indicate whether they were looking at a real word like KITE, or a non-word like EKTI. After doing this thousands of times, all of the baboons learned to recognize at least 80 words, even though they had no idea what the words meant. And Grainger says a baboon named Dan learned more than 300 words. more

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