Baboons may be smarter than originally thought, according to an international research team that includes a University of Iowa researcher. Dr. Ed Wasserman, a U-of-I psychology professor, says baboons were trained to use a joystick and a personal computer screen to select from sets of images — things like hands, clocks, flowers and triangles. Wasserman says it took thousands of training sessions and thousands of banana pellets as rewards.Wasserman says the research shows baboons may have more abilities in abstract thought than we’d previously given them credit for. He says this is the first step toward being able to better communicate, not only with baboons, but many other creatures of this –and other– worlds. He says what we learn could absolutely be important in learning how to communicate with other creatures, including people with severe brain injuries, very young children and extra-terrestrials, should we ever meet them. None of the baboon testing was done in Iowa. Wasserman traveled to France where he worked with scientists at the Center for Research in Cognitive Neuroscience in Marseille.
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