Chimpanzees Show Ability To Plan Route In Computer Mazes

Chimpanzees Show Ability To Plan Route In Computer Mazes


Chimpanzees are capable of some degree of planning for the future, in a manner similar to human children, while some species of monkeys struggle with this task, according to researchers at Georgia State University, Wofford College and Agnes Scott College.

Their findings were published on March 23 in the Journal of Comparative Psychology.

The study assessed the planning abilities of chimpanzees, two monkey species (rhesus macaques and capuchin monkeys) and human children (ages 28 to 66 months old) using a computerized game-like program that presented 100 unique mazes to the participants and required them to move a cursor through a maze to reach a goal at the bottom of the screen.“The chimpanzees proved to be quite good at the task, although monkeys showed more trouble with the harder mazes that required greater inhibition and more anticipation of future ‘trouble spots’ in the mazes,” said Dr. Michael Beran, associate director of the Language Research Center at Georgia State. “These data highlight the capacity of chimpanzees – and to a more limited degree, monkeys – to anticipate and plan future moves in these game-like tasks, a prerequisite for more complicated types of future-oriented cognition.”

The study found variability in the performance within each species and across ages in children, suggesting that a number of other cognitive processes may influence planning.

The performance differences could be attributed to differences in focused attention, overall brain size and social systems, the study said.

Children were good at negotiating their way through the maze, although older children performed better than younger children. Chimpanzees were better at the computerized maze task than both species of monkeys. Monkeys had difficulty with the task when they were required to change directions or move away from the ultimate goal in order to eventually reach it, suggesting limited abilities to plan movements through this form of maze.

The mazes varied in difficulty, and participants had to make one, two or three choices within the maze that could potentially have irreversible errors. The easiest mazes could be completed by simply moving the cursor in the direction of the goal, but others required a reversal of direction at one of the choice points or movement away from the goal in order to eventually reach it.

To achieve the best performance, subjects sometimes had to plan ahead to the end of the maze in order to move the cursor in the correct direction, avoid traps and reverse directions, if needed. Human children from a local preschool were included in the study to see how closely the nonhuman primates matched their performance.

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The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Quantum Computer As Detector Shows Space Is Not Squeezed

Quantum Computer As Detector Shows Space Is Not Squeezed


Ever since Einstein proposed his special theory of relativity in 1905, physics and cosmology have been based on the assumption that space looks the same in all directions – that it’s not squeezed in one direction relative to another.

A new experiment by UC Berkeley physicists used partially entangled atoms — identical to the qubits in a quantum computer — to demonstrate more precisely than ever before that this is true, to one part in a billion billion.

The classic experiment that inspired Albert Einstein was performed in Cleveland by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley in 1887 and disproved the existence of an “ether” permeating space through which light was thought to move like a wave through water. What it also proved, said Hartmut Häffner, a UC Berkeley assistant professor of physics, is that space is isotropic and that light travels at the same speed up, down and sideways.

“Michelson and Morley proved that space is not squeezed,” Häffner said. “This isotropy is fundamental to all physics, including the Standard Model of physics. If you take away isotropy, the whole Standard Model will collapse. That is why people are interested in testing this.”

The Standard Model of particle physics describes how all fundamental particles interact, and requires that all particles and fields be invariant under Lorentz transformations, and in particular that they behave the same no matter what direction they move.

Häffner and his team conducted an experiment analogous to the Michelson-Morley experiment, but with electrons instead of photons of light. In a vacuum chamber he and his colleagues isolated two calcium ions, partially entangled them as in a quantum computer, and then monitored the electron energies in the ions as Earth rotated over 24 hours.

If space were squeezed in one or more directions, the energy of the electrons would change with a 12-hour period. It didn’t, showing that space is in fact isotropic to one part in a billion billion (1018), 100 times better than previous experiments involving electrons, and five times better than experiments like Michelson and Morley’s that used light.

The results disprove at least one theory that extends the Standard Model by assuming some anisotropy of space, he said.

Häffner and his colleagues, including former graduate student Thaned Pruttivarasin, now at the Quantum Metrology Laboratory in Saitama, Japan, will report their findings in the Jan. 29 issue of the journal Nature.

Entangled qubits

Häffner came up with the idea of using entangled ions to test the isotropy of space while building quantum computers, which involve using ionized atoms as quantum bits, or qubits, entangling their electron wave functions, and forcing them to evolve to do calculations not possible with today’s digital computers. It occurred to him that two entangled qubits could serve as sensitive detectors of slight disturbances in space.

“I wanted to do the experiment because I thought it was elegant and that it would be a cool thing to apply our quantum computers to a completely different field of physics,” he said. “But I didn’t think we would be competitive with experiments being performed by people working in this field. That was completely out of the blue.”

He hopes to make more sensitive quantum computer detectors using other ions, such as ytterbium, to gain another 10,000-fold increase in the precision measurement of Lorentz symmetry. He is also exploring with colleagues future experiments to detect the spatial distortions caused by the effects of dark matter particles, which are a complete mystery despite comprising 27 percent of the mass of the universe.

“For the first time we have used tools from quantum information to perform a test of fundamental symmetries, that is, we engineered a quantum state which is immune to the prevalent noise but sensitive to the Lorentz-violating effects,” Häffner said. “We were surprised the experiment just worked, and now we have a fantastic new method at hand which can be used to make very precise measurements of perturbations of space.”

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The above story is based on materials provided by University of California – Berkeley. The original article was written by Robert Sanders. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

$1.5-billion Supercomputer to simulate the Human Brain

$1.5-billion Supercomputer to simulate the Human Brain


The European Commission has announced, the Human Brain Project, a $1.5-billion Supercomputer to simulate the Human Brain.    Image © wikipedia

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The over a period of ten years Human Brain Project, will seek to understand and map the brain structure and function, and aim to translate it into a supercomputer simulation.

HBP-videoverview from Human Brain Project on Vimeo.

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source Human Brain Project via WordlessTech