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Updated: June 16, 2013 19:45 IST

Monkeys have reasoning powers like primitive humans

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Researchers found that intelligent animals such as apes can intuit others’ intentions, suggesting they have some theory of mind capability. File photo: V.V. Krishnan
The Hindu Researchers found that intelligent animals such as apes can intuit others’ intentions, suggesting they have some theory of mind capability. File photo: V.V. Krishnan

Monkeys may have reasoning abilities similar to primitive humans to put themselves in another’s shoes, a new study has found.

Researchers found that intelligent animals such as apes can intuit others’ intentions, suggesting they have some theory of mind capability.

However, only humans can reason that others may not hold their own beliefs, ‘New Scientist’ reported.

Rogier Mars of the University of Oxford and colleagues scanned 36 people’s brains in order to study this difference.

Using an algorithm, researchers created a map of how an area associated with theory of mind is connected to brain regions linked to abilities such as face recognition and interpretation.

They scanned 12 macaque brains for a similar pattern of connections. An area involved in facial recognition had a similar pattern, suggesting involvement in abstract thought.

Rogier Mars said that, however, doesn’t necessarily mean the structures share a function.

Theory of mind is probably a spectrum of ways of thinking, he said, adding, humans got better at it as they evolved.

The structural differences may tell us why non-human primates lack the ability to think about others’ beliefs, Laurie Santos of Yale University said.

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