Apes Pass Intelligence Test Once Thought Impossible (Experiment Footage)

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Shared September 30, 2019

Video clips published with approval from lead author F. Kano.

"Theory of mind" is critical for everyday human interaction. It allows us to understand that others we socialize with have mental states — beliefs, desires, emotions and knowledge — that affects their behavior.

Scientists now think great apes have this ability too, in a landmark discovery that settles four decades of questions over the intelligence of the animals.

They figured it out by designing a complex experiment consisting of apes getting to make "meta" observations of a situation where a human agent would open boxes looking for an object. The ape was allowed to observe another human (dressed like an ape) move the objects around while the human wasn't in the room.

By eye-tracking the ape, it was discovered that the animal would look at spots based on its expectation of what the human knew. In other words, even though the ape knew where the object was, it realized the agent didn't know that, and behaved accordingly.

This tells us apes can project their inner experiences onto others' states of mind, which is the underpinning of the "theory of mind."

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"Great apes use self-experience to anticipate an agent’s action in a false-belief test," Fumihiro Kano, Christopher Krupenye, Satoshi Hirata, Masaki Tomonaga, and Josep Call (2019): https://www.pnas.org/content/early/20...
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It's Bloody Science! LLC reproduced the text of this video. All other images, sounds and video clips are freely available in the public domain or Creative Commons licenses, or are licensed via Powtoon software. Experiment footage was used with permission of the lead author and can be viewed in its entirety on the journal website, linked above.

Background song: After the Soft Rains, South London HiFi, which is free to use and to monetize in this video via YouTube Audio Library.



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