The Cognitive Tradeoff Hypothesis

[clangs] This is Inuyama, Japan, a historic city home to Japan’s oldest
original wooden castle. It is also home
to Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute.Here, a group of chimpanzees
have been trained
to play a game that exposes
something shocking
about their memories.This is going
to blow your mind.
Here is how it works.Take a look at these numbers.1, 2, 3.Remember where they are,because they’re about
to disappear.
Can you point to where
each number used to be
in numerical order?Probably. It’s pretty easy.1, 2, 3.But what if we
make it harder?
Get ready to point to where
each number was in order…
now.If you feel like you didn’t
have enough time
to memorize the screen,
that’s fine.
It’s nothing
to be ashamed of.
Or is it?Here is a chimpanzee
taking exactly that long
to memorize the same
Nailed it.Each of these puzzles
is completely new
to the chimpanzee,but just a glance
is all it needs
to completely capture
all the numbers.
How can a chimpanzee’s memorybe so much better
than ours?
Well, one theory
is that we humans
are worse at this task
because we can talk.
What makes humans different
from other animals? Well, one thing is language. We have the cognitive ability to communicate not just about
what’s happening now, but also about what did happen,
and what could happen. We can tell stories,
and it’s awesome. But if language is so good, why didn’t any other animal
develop it like we did?A good approach
to this question
is one that looks
at how we are different
from those who were almost us.Around 7 million years ago,there were no chimpanzees
and there were no humans.
But there were CHLCAs,an acronym which stands for“Chimpanzee-Human
Last Common Ancestor.”
Like us,
CHLCAs didn’t have
great natural offenses
or defenses,
protective shells or claws,
fangs or venom.
So living in the safety
of the trees was great.
Those who stayed became
the chimps we know today.
But for reasons we’re still
not quite sure of,
some of the CHLCAs decided
to venture down to the savanna.
Without appropriate
physical abilities,
things like cooperation,
imagining new strategies,
and the assigning of roles
were necessary for survival,
all of which are easier
if you have
a rich collection of symbolsthat can refer to things
across time:
language.Many different types
of creatures emerged
with varying adaptations.But today, only one member
of the family remains.
Us.Language as we know it may have
been one of the strategies that kept us alive
in the savanna. But where did it move in? The brains of those
who developed language and those who didn’t
aren’t totally different. A brand-new brain structure
didn’t just pop into existence. Instead, anatomy used
for other tasks must have been sacrificed. And as it turns out,
for beautiful reasons, detailed short-term memory may have been
a fair thing to lose in return for language. This trade-off
between memory and language is the Cognitive Tradeoff
Hypothesis.The Cognitive Tradeoff
is the culmination
of decades of work
by one of the world’s leading
Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawaof Kyoto University’s
Primate Research Institute.
Founded in 1967,the institute was created
for scientific research
in association with the nearby
Japan Monkey Center.
The collaborative centers house
over 60 species
and nearly 1,000 primates who
live and play in open spaces.
Look at monkeys. [monkeys chitter] Is there a baby
on that one? -[Michael] Six months?
-[Tetsuro] Yes. [gibbers] That’s where they live. [Michael]
Can you do it? [grunts]Dr. Matsuzawa has spent
over 40 years
non-human primates.
He splits his time
between fieldwork
in the West African country
of Guinea,
and here in Japan,where he and his colleagues
have developed
a chimpanzee habitatdesigned to mimic life
in the wild.
This habitat is home to Skylab,
a working laboratory
set high atop the chimpanzee”
climbing structure.
In this open air lab,chimpanzees are free
to come and go as they please.
And this is how you move?If they decide to stay,they participate
in cognitively enriching tasks
designed to mimic
foraging behavior.
When the chimpanzees are
interested in participating,
they enter one of Skylab’sspecially designed
computer booths,
where a camera uses
facial recognition software
to recognize them
and select a test
based that particular chimp’s
current familiarity
with the task.Each trial takes about as longas it would for a chimp
to forage a single bite.
And each morsel
of food they get
is accounted for
in their diet.
Do the doors open
when they approach? No human even needs to be…?So, what is for us
a great way to collect data,
is for them an experiencesimilar in many waysto what they would be doing
in the wild.
Impressive.Dr. Matsuzawa has been running
memory tests like these
on chimpanzees since 1978.His research has shown
the phenomenal
and nearly photographic
short-term memory
of these primates.Two of the most famous chimps
at the PRI are Ai,
named after the Japanese word
for “love,”
and her son Ayumu,
whose name means “walk.”
What can we learn
about ourselves
by studying chimpanzees
like them?
Well, I want to find out.If we and chimpanzees
come from a common ancestor, what can explain the split
where the chimpanzees don’t seem to need
or to develop language like we did? Why would that happen?
Was it an accident? Ah-ha. Our habitat… provided a pressure
to develop language. Yes. -That’s incredible.
-Mm. So, in a way, we should be
really grateful that our ancestors
were so weak, they got pushed
out of the trees. [thumping] -Bang, bang.
-[laughs] [Michael] I’d invite you to be
a part of this interview, but you don’t have language. Right now. Mm-hmm. Quick decisions. Our ancestors didn’t have
that same pressure? Hmm. [Michael]The Cognitive
Tradeoff Hypothesis
suggests that in the dangerous
world beyond the trees,
early humans needed
to teach each other
and use abstract symbols
that could refer
not just to the immediate
here and now,
but to hypotheticals
and generalities.
Making room for that kind
of abstract thinking
meant sacrificing the immediate
and detailed memory
of their ancestors.Yeah. I’m able to imagine
past and future. I’m able to describe things
in an abstract way. And I don’t need the details, because I have the label. So it seems like a pretty good
trade-off. Yeah. Yeah. What a great message, right? Sharing is what makes us “us.” I would love to see your
working memory tests on chimpanzees in action. I would also really love
to participate myself and see how well I can do
compared to a chimpanzee. Yes. Have you ever had
a human and a chimpanzee compete like that
together? -[hooting]
-[Michael] They’re excited -about the idea too.
-[laughs] [gibbering] [Michael]
An opportunity to do the memory
task just like a chimpanzee
is really special.Who knows how it will go?Let’s see who shows up.-[clapping]
-[Michael] Yeah! You’re really good
at this, Ai.Looks like today,
it will be celebrity chimp, Ai.
Ai is older now,
and just like in humans,
her cognitive abilities
have decreased with time.
So I may actually
stand a chance.
To face off against Ai,I will be sitting in the booth
next to her.
Normally, her son Ayumu
plays against her.
But today, well,
she’s in for some Michael time.
I’m not your child, though,
am I?The tests are going
to get harder as we go along.
How will my memory compare
to that of a chimp
who never made
the same cognitive trade-off?
[exhales]In the first round,
the task is to remember
where each of the three numbers
are in numerical order.
But here’s the trick:as soon as I touch
one of them on the screen,
the other two will
be covered by solid squares,
so I can no longer see
where they are.
Now, well,
it’s up to my memory.
Okay, let’s go. [Michael]
If I make a mistake,
I get an error noise
like this…
[buzzer]…while a correct answersounds like this.[computer chirps]When the chimpanzee
gets it right,
they are rewarded
with apples.
The human, me, well,
just gets the bragging rights.
I’m not getting apples. [laughs] [computer chirps] You really actually have
to focus more than I expected. Almost messed that one up. [buzzer] [computer chirps] [Tetsuro] How did Michael do? 95. [Michael]
On my first run,
I’ve managed to beat Ai.What is the next task? How many symbols? Whoa. [computer chirps] This is a lot harder.This game is similar
to the last,
but starts a little bit
This time, three numbers
appear on a blank screen,
but as soon as I touch
the first one,
the entire screen
is covered in boxes.
[computer chirps] Whew. [buzzer] [computer chirps] [buzzer] [Michael]
Ai… you having fun? -Whoa!
-[grunts]Ai is used to Ayumu, her son,
playing the game beside her,
so my presence
may be throwing her off.
I’m here for moral support, Ai.It was fun squaring off
against Ai,
but I want to see how I would
do against her son, Ayumu.
I’m ready. Okay… [Michael]Ayumu is currently
Matsuzawa’s best pupil,
able to ace the memory tests
at blazingly fast speeds.
[computer chirps]But today, Ayumu is not
interested in mental combat.
He’s busy flirting
with some young ladies
who live with him
here at the PRI.
And since free choice
is the guiding principle
of Matsuzawa’s research,
we can’t make him join us.
The good news is that
Ayumu doesn’t need to be here
for me to compete
against him.
The game can be presented
to me just as Ayumu does it:
with nine numerals.Let’s see if my luck
is the same against Ayumu
as it was against Ai.Oh, man. Okay. -[buzzer]
-Wow. [laughs] Even when I take time
I can’t do it right. Okay, more time. [buzzer] I thought I had that one. It takes a long time to memorize
nine numerals’ positions. [buzzer] It’s embarrassing
how long this takes me. I can do this one. [computer chirps] All right. Yeah. You don’t need
to laugh about it. Thirteen. I got better, yeah,
because you were pressuring me. Jesus. Six times worse,
six times slower. Yeah. I would love to. [Michael]This is the most
difficult test.
I have to remember all nine
numbers in numerical order
at Ayumu’s speed,which is to say,
I have to do
what I could
barely do before,
but now I have
to memorize them all
within the amount of timeit takes to blink.So I get half a second
to prepare? I’m going to prove you wrong.As a reminder,
this is how Ayumu performs,
which is standard
for a young chimp.
You got to be kidding me. -That’s way too fast.
-[buzzer] I got the first three. [buzzer] It’s like a joke. [buzzer] [laughs]
I don’t know where the 2 is. [buzzer] It’s too fast. Trying to think of this
very holistically. [buzzer] [clears throat] [buzzer] After the first three, if I see them,
I’m just having to guess. [laughs] [buzzer] Yeah. It’s impossible. Well, I hope this was
helpful for you. It was the first time you had
had a chimpanzee and a human together in the booth. What do you think–? [both laugh] If you ever need me
to study as a primate, -I give myself to you.
-Okay. Wow. And we need to make sure
to preserve them. -They’re already endangered.
-Yes. And yet they are our closest
link to understanding what we came from
and where we might go. [Tetsuro]
Mm. [Michael] It’s like taking care
of your family. -[Tetsuro] Mm, right.
-[Michael] Quite literally. [Tetsuro]
Yes. [snarling] [Michael]
The fact that humans alone
use complex
symbolic language
doesn’t make us any better
than any other species.
It just means that the path
we took required it.
In fact, in some ways
we aren’t better,
because we can talk.Today, we study those
who took different paths
as a way to learn
more about ourselves.
If we lose them,
we lose part of our story,
where we came from,who we are,and who we can be
in the future.
[gibbering] [shrieks]And, as always,thanks for watching.This season,
Mind Field. I will die. But should I? I want to perform
a reverse exorcism. There was like
a glowing figure, man. [man] I would love to do the Stanford
prison experiment again. There, let’s blast them again.
Number three. [electricity hums] Have you ever had a human and a chimpanzee compete
like that together? You having fun? -Whoa!
-No, not really. [shrieks] I am going to make
my hometown function like a brain. [cheering] Doing a good moral deed can
actually make you more likely to do something immoral. We’re going to see if we
can get people to allow a child to take the blame
for a crime they committed. -How old are you, son?
-Twelve. [guard] We’re going to need
to talk to the police. This facility is where you both
cryo-preserve people and store them. We have 159 patients
in these tanks. We’re offering an unknown
extension of human lifespan. -[Michael] You spied
on their dream.
-Yeah. That’s pretty spooky. [Michael] We received a message
from outer space. Please figure out
what this message is saying. -[man] You ready?
-I’m ready. Hey, I have to leave
and go over to the next episode, but you can come with me. Click below to check out
the next episode ofMind Field.I’ll see you there.

Glenn Chapman


  1. To be honest, if you spend your day doing piss-all else, It wouldn't be that difficult to meorise them

  2. That's twenty-five minutes of my life wasted. Michael, a newbie to that test, competed with two other individuals who take the test regularly. The researcher doesn't study human ability so how can he make his claim? He doesn't study his own hypothesis. All conditions being equal do contemporary humans from industrialized societies consistantly perform the test as poorly as Michael? Do humans from agricultural societies also perform badly? More importantly, how do the chimps and the first two groups of humans compare to human hunter gatherers? How well do the chimps perform when testing alone vs testing with another individual on the other side of the glass?

  3. They kicked us out of the forests..They made a big mistake, they should have kicked us out of this world.

  4. I believe the chimpanzees over most scientists talking about global warming and climate change.

  5. Notice a white square appears over each number with no squares over empty parts of screen?

  6. Should do the test with someone that has a photographic memory, then compare.




  8. You once said you wanted free education, witch is why you made your you tube videos. Now you actually charge people up the a** just to watch your videos, so I just never watch them and tell everyone that your just a skum looking for money not that you want to show ppl shit you show them what will make you money. Even this free clip. Your lost everything that was good about this

  9. Maybe they are lying to you since most of the intelligence on this rock believe this is bullshit no evolutionary chain can be linked and most of all fossils are cast of what they think it's gonna look like

  10. Shave a bear or pluck an owl and then take them both to bone would u honestly guess what it would be like ……..if u said ya your not open open them fucking eye,s

  11. What makes humans different from other animals? Is the wrong question. We are not animals we are humans with an Eternal soul & divine consciousness. But the homosapians cannot recognize that because their god is Charles Darwin father of modern eugenics.

  12. I think the most impressive part of this is that they taught chimps to read 1-9 in numerical order

  13. we had to make sense out of our intelligence to survive so slowly because to place sounds into meanings for objects with eventually developed into language. also we know how hard it is to learn language, the fast memory pace we see in those CHLA was slowed as life evolved in order to understand to develop a form of language and

  14. lol they way he mumbled very interesting at 14:02 would be funny if he captured Michael to experiment on him

  15. And how many times have the chimps been shown and taught (thru treats) correct numbers ranging?

  16. Just imagine that people making those Planet of the Apes flicks would consider this cognitive difference while writing the scripts.

  17. I can't believe we came from chimps. And the answers from the scientist are also a big MAYBE.

  18. Ai tiramos os animais da sua vida livre na natureza para viverem suas vidas inteiras fazendo testes para que possamos criar hipóteses e teorias por meros pedaços de fruta. Evolução que chama né?

  19. Notice how the editor of this video replaces the sound of the cheetah with something more ferocious sounding at 8:02

  20. When chimps can remember when to pick up the kids, navigate the DMV and get the mortgage payment in on time… give us a heads up, okay?

  21. I am not even kidding. I find the test not that difficult. If you give me five second atleast

  22. You weren’t making enough money with 14 millions subs? You had to sell your ass off to youtube?

  23. 하나님이 자기 형상 곧 하나님의 형상대로 사람을 창조하시되 남자와 여자를 창조하시고
    하나님이 그들에게 복을 주시며 하나님이 그들에게 이르시되 생육하고 번성하여 땅에 충만하라, 땅을 정복하라, 바다의 물고기와 하늘의 새와 땅에 움직이는 모든 생물을 다스리라 하시니라

  24. 19:36 😆😆😆👍👍👍👌
    And 22:09 – it is Mega laugh!!!! Thanks Michael

  25. I realize the idea is to challenge Michael in the same way the chimps are challenged… hence the numbers, but Chimps (given they're lack of things like language) may not necessarily recognize numbers as numbers – and probably don't think of them as being in any sequence other than the random patten they are shown in/trained to recognize, where as humans do. Subconsciously a human is probably more likely to think of numbers in the 'correct way' – following some form of logical sequence (like numerical or multiplicative). To more accurately test the hypothesis, and get results more representative of the true difference in short term memory between the two subjects they should have used new and unfamiliar characters/symbols.

    I have no doubt that Ayumu would still be able to outperform Michael, but making the chimp feel equally as unfamiliar and uncertain as the human would have been the true test.

    EDIT: I realize they weren't going to program an entirely new test just for the sake of this episode, I was only sharing my H Y P O T H E S I S : )

  26. 7:50 little did those as*holes know, we would go on to become way more sophisticated than them, and take over the world, more or less.

  27. They kick us out, they become endangered, we rule the world.

    * Balanced, as all things should be *

  28. Me at 3:00 am: I'll watch just to find out what that means.
    Me at 3:02 am: Damn it.

  29. Hmm interesting. So people who speak more than two languages will there memory be worse or better in a long term?

  30. But people with eidetic memory can do much greater feats

    Edit: and I’m sure there are humans that can outperform ayumu’s test too

  31. What about people who can memorize everything they see in detail, can recall every events in the past with right dates?? Some of them even able to make painting of it

  32. if a man train like this can he/she do it? then , if he and she can will they must have issues with language / imagination / sharing thoughts . ?

  33. 컴퓨터가 모니터에 출력 할때 성능이 반토막 났던 현상이랑 비슷하다.

  34. This video is two years old. I saw that on nationalgeographic channel free . Now here they are charging for it  ̄へ ̄

  35. I saw a tv programme about brain damage once. Some of the people suffering from severe damage to the left side of the brain had lost the ability to speak, but were able to do other things, like make amazing drawings. When they disabled the left hemisphere of a "normal" person, he was able to accurately count a large number of dots which were shown on a computer screen for a very short time – a task similar to the chimpanzee test in this video. Before the disabling of the left hemisphere of his brain, he was unable to do the test.

  36. Its so funny for me to watch intelligent people discuss mysteries of life from an evolutionary stand point. When will they unlearn? The answers to their questions are so obvious and so much more beautiful and interesting than they allow themselves to realize. Its a shame.

  37. Me:
    Beginning of the video: It's just a Chimp..!!
    End of the video: Common..I'm just a Human..!!!

  38. I don't buy this, it seems as though Mr. Matsuzawa wants this too much. If you trained a human baby from birth to do the same repetitive task every day, he/she would most likely be much better than a chimpanzee at that task. But instead, Mr. Matsuzawa pit Michael, who has never done this memory game before, against the chimpanzee.

  39. So the chimp has repeated the exercise for who knows how many years, yet it's supposed to be a fair comparison? And how the hell one does a science for 60 years, yet doesn't let any human do the same test? They say at 11:26 that they have NEVER done that, and nobody in comment section bats an eye? 😀 Seriously though, the video is so much longer than it could have been… At this rate I wouldn't be surprised if the presented "hypothesis" were even proven wrong already, I mean so many factors are being ignored that it's not even funny. There are already android apps with similar training exercises. The hypothesis that the chimp has to "count enemies and remember them in their order" makes no evolutionary sense whatsoever, please prove me wrong if I'm missing something crucial here… Also when it comes to "visualization", there are groups of people with photographic memory (they can also use language – SURPRISE!), and on the opposite end of the spectrum, you get people with aphantasia. But sure, it's a better idea to waste 15 minutes of the video doing an unnecessary experiment with zero statistical relevance, right? And you people believe that's what science should be like.

  40. I relate to you michael, this is weird. Im from australia. Im 20. Im a female. Conspiracy theorists dont believe i exist 😂

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