Problem-solving and pattern recognition

The Telegraph reports: The apes, which are our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, seem to get the same level of satisfaction out of solving brain teasers as their human evolutionary cousins.

A study published by the Zoological Society of London shows that six chimpanzees who were given a game which involved moving red dice or Brazil through a maze of pipes enjoyed solving the puzzle whether they got a reward or not.

The researchers claim this suggests they got the same kind of psychological reward as humans get when solving problems.

Most problem solving witnessed in the animal kingdom, where animals use tools or navigate mazes, are with the aim of reaching food. Hyenas, octopuses and birds such as crows all show the ability to solve problems.

Chimpanzees have also been witnessed in the wild using tools such as a stick to forage for insects or honey in hard to reach places like tree stumps.

But ZSL researcher Fay Clark said their research said they could be motivated by more than just food.

She said: “We noticed that the chimps were keen to complete the puzzle regardless of whether or not they received a food reward.

“This strongly suggests they get similar feelings of satisfaction to humans who often complete brain games for a feel-good reward.”

It seems like research repeatedly demonstrates that we share more similarities with other primates than we previously recognized, and as I’ve suggested before, this says as much about our preconceptions about human uniqueness as it says about the human-like qualities of our close relatives. Moreover, in this case, just as the research indicates chimps experience a human-like satisfaction in problem-solving, I suspect that in both instances this trait relates to something shared by all animate creatures: an interest in discerning order.

Chaos is immobilizing and the ability to turn one direction rather than another rests in part in the ability to see patterns and repetition. In pure pristine perception, every moment would be unique, but in reality, the ground of perception is not blank — present is mapped onto past.

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