The Cognitive Tradeoff Hypothesis
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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.

100 thoughts on “The Cognitive Tradeoff Hypothesis

  1. So, why now we can not make or teach animlas to talk ?
    "Being kicked out of the tree" isn't an evidence of the tellings, it's more as a hypothetical statement.
    The evolution theory talks about natural selection in other words (the selection of the fittest) meaning the ones that fit the environment. Based on this, we'll be having the disappearance of human kind based on the assumption (weakness). So how did human survive ? because if they were weak on the tree how can they not be weak on land?

  2. I don't think they learned to count and complete this puzzle from day 1.
    If we leave Michael living with monkeys and do this for food I bet he will become just as good.

  3. Thanks for making this free❤
    This is and will remain the best channel on youtube.
    And one of the greatest show ever ! 🙏

  4. Wouldn't it be interesting to see how chimps do against a set of video game players which includes its own set of players who play specific games? In another Mind Fields video, we were shown how humans change strategy and their way of thinking when playing video games – it would be interesting to see which types of games stimulate the human brain in such way that a human is then able to compete with a chimp in terms of memory. |s it possible that through such superficial experiences humans are able to return specific survival necessary traits?

  5. The chimps did pretty well, but I'm pretty sure the results will be different if you let those memory athletes compete against them.

  6. This is intriguing. Not to get political, but think of all the quick decisions police in our world have to make and how they are criticized for those decisions. Maybe we shouldn't hold it against them as much as people do now.

  7. i think another reason of chimpanzees quick memories is that they dont require in a specific order as we make sentences take time to form in rational orders.

  8. I don't understand the evolutionary perspective of it being a trade off. Surely natural selection would have favoured both those who had good memory and also developed language centres in the brain. Why does one need to replace the other, that isn't often seen in natural selection?

  9. It is important to preserve at least the 5 closest relatives. Chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans and gibbons. I do not think we can preserve hunter-gatherer and premodern societies, so we should record as much data about them as we can, for future generations of scientists.

  10. if they are our "cousins" then why do humans have different Y-DNA than chimps or even bonobos ?
    where is the common ancestor exactly according to evolution theory ?

  11. “The fact that humans alone use complex, symbolic language doesn’t mean that we are better than any other species.”

  12. Thanks for making this free first of all. Secondly you were good on your first try, that chimpanzee literally did this all his life. It’s like playing literally any multiplayer game for the first time. Don’t you think you can play a game 6 times better after a while?!

  13. What if one of the humans wears a "Please Remind Me To Breathe" shirt,cap, henna tattoo for 5 years everyday in the city.
    What if one of the #KnowTards wears a "Please Remind Me To Breathe" shirt,cap, henna tattoo for 5 years everyday in the city.

    What if Michael wears a "Please Remind Me To Breathe" shirt,cap, henna tattoo for 5 years everyday in the city.

    Yeah Butt: All of you are very boring and weak AND INNOCENT AND FORGIVEN.

  14. YouTube premium crappy crappy crapp Why is it' called original nothing's ORIGINAL About any of the shows movies and documentarys that YouTube ORIGINALS streams and offers subscribers who are paying expecting entertaining updated service removing adds became very cheap for YouTube and now for me I'm likely too unsubscribe to premium

  15. I just came from season 2, and you better believe how glad i was to see the comments are not turned off
    I felt like that locked in syndrome trying to communicate but with no way to do it

  16. Um… but Michael never trained this cognitive task. Are they seriously drawing these conclusions without having a human train the tasks? What makes them think a human can’t learn to recognize 9 numbers at a glance in this game if they haven’t tried training? How many of you can solve chess puzzles in under 3 seconds? Answer: Only those who trained it

  17. It is painful how obviously biased the scientist is towards his theory. He gives Michael no time to practice and is so eager to point out when Michael fails. The monkey has been doing that his whole life. I bet most humans could reach that level with some days of practice. And not giving him the instructions.. the monkey already know the game. High doubt on this theory. At least in the extent he advocates. Maybe we just stopped developing our cognitive ability. I mean our brains are bigger, should fit more.

    From what I know about Japanese people I wouldn't be surprised if and when he try it with other Japanese people, they would out of respect say something like: "Oh, it's' too hard, I can't do it."

  18. Maybe that big brain space for memory just got repurposed to communicate with language quicker, which is why us humans can so efficiently communicate information?

  19. I mean, how would a child perform if at a young age they were able to practice over and over again? People who practice memory are way better than these chimps. They can memorize decks of cards at a crazy speed and are insane at memorizing digits

  20. Hi.
    I have been practising this game myself. It turns out I might have a short-term memory that is comparable to that of a chimpanzee.
    I have been doing a lot of practice runs in this online game
    My fastest time was 3 seconds 31 milliseconds, and I'm able to every so often reach 3 seconds 45 milliseconds to 5 seconds slower than a chimpanzee. That is, this is my first day playing the game.

    So awesome!
    I think I might be able to play on that level if I practiced this for like months and months, building up my skill as I go along.

    I literally have ape brain :p

  21. i really want Vsauce to explore how people with photographic memory compare here. Is that the ability that the chimpanzees have? Do people that have that ability have a larger part of their brain in the same respect as chimpanzees?

  22. I predict that if you lock a human in a cage. they would learn to recognize the number patterns for food just about as fast as the chimps.

  23. I don’t believe it has everything to do with memory… our human eyes have a very small focus point which limits how much we can see clearly in a small area

  24. Возьмите монахов , они практикуют молчание , молчание золото , молчание помогает осмысливать наши мысли более детально , ну и я не специалист , просто аскетика в христианстве особенно в ортодоксальном очень интересно .

  25. i think it's less so that we traded memory for language, as much as we traded memory for storage.
    similar to how a computer works, memory is fast and efficient, it can store and recall information quickly, but it's capacity is severely limited and as new information is added old information is quickly lost.
    storage on the other hand takes longer to write to, but also longer to read, in turn however the capacity is greater.

  26. Reminder that short term memory does not equal intelligence. Humans have many more neurons than chimpanzees, and chimpanzees didnt have to evolve to the same extreme threats we had. The reason we have such powerful brains is because we had A LOT of competition, lions cheetahs and hyenas are much more deadly than the rodents and occasional snake chimps had to deal with.

  27. To explain the eventual abandonment of arboreal locomotive priorities, looks like some people have taken notes and done their homework — regarding “marginalization”.

    And in a world full of Globalism, Orwellian deceptions, and human rights abuses, [mind control fraud], it’s good to see that De Waal’s “Chimpanzee Politics” is in such splendid form.

    Secondly, in order to appropriate proper scholastic interpretations — at the expense of untoward theoretical conclusions, along with dubious intellectual sharing practices — a brief statement about the aptitudes of chimpanzees is in order here:

    Chimpanzees don’t excel at these tests because they developed an ability to quickly calculate how many members were approaching from an opposing group.
    As extraordinary brachiators and climbers, their possession of these aptitudes has everything to do with the mandatory memorization of the correct placement of shapes.

  28. Won't practicing makes it easier? So it's not really a physical adaptation but a mentality adaptation, we don't need quick decision, but we can gain it easily.

  29. Your test with the Chimp kinda make me wondering something…. have you ever heard about ADHD/ADD? and the Hunter/Gatherers Hypothesis theory about it?… and Hyperfocus? well.. in Hyperfocus, most of the times we (ADD/ADHD people) managed to do something bit similar to the test, and in most of the time I can only explained it by saying, we only used the memory for it shapes, not it meanings.. ( I do hope someone out there with ADD/ADHD can help what I'm trying to say here lol ) These are great shows btw… I've been really enjoying it these couple of months

  30. Hearing about sacrificing memory for language makes me wonder.

    Is language not = memory?

    If I see a tree, I call it tree cause I memorized it as a "tree".
    I memorize a circle in context of typography to be an "o"

    If we never raise our children in the common world and do not talk.
    Those children would keep the insticts that developed in their time, what that may be.
    Think of a dog learning tricks, just memorizing what to do to get XY.

    Consider that whatever we train we in exchange lose something else.
    If you close your eyes, you can focus more on anything else.
    Consider every skill you have to take more and more energy of your brain.
    The less you use it the more you have for any other skills therefore having your brain be more active for that, in this example memory.

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