What do monkeys think when they are doing nothing?

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[EN VIDÉO] The “drunk monkey” hypothesis or why we like alcohol
Where does our passion for alcohol come from? Robert Dudley, an evolutionary biologist, has a hypothesis. The “drunk monkey” hypothesis. A hypothesis that we are attracted to alcohol, because we have evolved as fruit primates. Fruits that produce alcohol naturally by fermentation of sugars. Especially fruits with high nutritional value. How can all this help you find solutions to alcoholism? (in English) © University of Berkeley

Did you know that expression “smart as a monkey” originally, wasn’t it necessarily the most flattering? Because in the past, popular belief made the monkey … a creature of the devil. So we had to listen “smart” in the sense of “malicious” much more than in the sense of“smart” o“smart”.

And then the scientists got involved. We were taught that monkeys belong to the same order as humans. The primates. The so-called great apes we have even integrated our hominid family directly. chimpanzees o bonobos they are, therefore, our cousins. Thus, when we speak, in everyday language, of “ours ancestor of the monkey »it is rather to designate thecommon ancestorthat we may have had with the great apes that lived six million years ago.

Over the last few decades, researchers have also discovered that monkeys are very intelligent. “Smart” in the sense of “smart”, this time. They really started to realize this in the 60’s. Jane Goodall, a young British ethologist, observed that a chimpanzee used a branch to catch termites. The first evidence that the use of tools was not exclusive to humans. The first proof that animals can also rely on some kind ofintelligence.

From there, scientists discovered all sorts of cognitive skills in our cousins ​​the apes. They have memory. They know how to learn and transmit. They like to play. They know how to recognize themselves in a mirror. Chimpanzees have even been seen looking left and then right before crossing a road. And remember thethe story of Kokothe female gorilla who had learned to speak with her hands … Finally, great apes may well be smarter than some of our ancestors.

A “network in default mode” that makes a difference

To get to the bottom of it, researchers have gone even further. They were interested in the brains of four species of primates: the mouse lemur died, the tit, the macaque and … Man. And more precisely even in their brain networks. Those that connect different regions of the brain to each other.

In humans, scientists have identified a rather surprising network. They call it the “network in default mode”. Connect several regions of our brain . And this “network in default mode” it is associated with introspection, self-reflection, and planning for the future. It activates especially when … we do nothing!

However, researchers now assure us that in the nonhuman primates they have studied, two particular regions of the brain connected by the “network in default mode” they communicate little when these monkeys are at rest. It is about Prefrontal cortex median, responsible for information handling, and the posterior cingulate cortex, which acts as regulatorinteractions between brain regions. According to scientists, this is a sign that this famous network does not exist identically in these primates. Although scientists still believe that the “default mode” of our cousins, the great apes, might be a little more like ours.

This particular organization for the human being of the “network in default mode” it could be what offered us the opportunity to develop a particular abstract thought. Differentiate our intelligence from that of other primates. Although I’m sure the monkey … isn’t that stupid!

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