Study: Monkeys are much smarter than we thought they were

Similar to humans, monkeys are able to make complicated decisions after considerable thinking.

Researchers have shown that monkeys, like humans, are capable of sophisticated deliberation and deliberate decision-making, according to a ground-breaking study that was published today in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

The conventional wisdom that only humans are capable of delving deeply into an issue and taking into account several variables, such as costs, repercussions, and limits in order to arrive at the best solutions is called into question by this recent discovery.

Dr. William Stauffer from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the study's main author, asserted that humans are not the only species capable of deliberate slowness. "Our research demonstrates that monkeys have a complex mental state that enables them to think critically. It's a fresh approach to researching the neurophysiological underpinnings of deliberate cognition.

The work poses significant issues concerning the nature of animal mind and decision-making processes, as well as whether other species can engage in sophisticated reasoning at the same level as humans. It also clarifies the cognitive processes at play when we, as humans, choose who to spend time with or what to study in school, among other life decisions.

With his Prospect Theory, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Daniel Kahneman transformed behavioral economics a number of decades ago. Dr. Kahneman proposed in his famous book, "Thinking Fast and Slow," that people have two different ways of thinking: one that is almost immediate and instinctive, and another that is considerably slower and dependent on conscious logical reasoning and demands more mental effort.

How monkeys were used in the study

Dr. Kahneman described the first way of thinking as "slow" and the second way as "fast." We can perform complicated tasks like producing music, creating scientific ideas, and handling our checkbooks by thinking slowly and deliberately. Slow thinking was once thought to be a characteristic of just humans.

However, the most recent study refutes that idea. The study showed that monkeys used sophisticated mathematical reasoning and used effective computational algorithms to solve complex problems by presenting them with combinatorial optimization problems, which the researchers dubbed the "knapsack task," and rewarding the animals based on the value of their solutions.

The difficulty of the objective had an impact on how well and quickly the animals performed, and their decisions closely matched those made by effective computer programs created especially to address the optimization challenge.

"Results from this work will contribute neurophysiological evidence to enlighten centuries of discussions about dual process theories of the mind, the structure of thoughts, and the neurobiological basis of intuition and reasoning," Stauffer said in a research briefing that accompanied the article.

The paper's principal author is Carnegie Mellon University's Tao Hong. The study's findings not only shed light on how monkeys think, but they also open up a new paradigm for research into the neurophysiological underpinnings of deliberate thought, which may have implications for our understanding of how complex decision-making is across species.

Information on monkeys

The infraorder Simiiformes includes a wide range of primates, including monkeys. Monkeys from the New World, which are found in Central and South America, and Old World monkeys, which are found in Africa and Asia, are the two main subgroups. The intellect, social skills, and environmental adaptation of monkeys are well recognized.

Monkey physical traits

Monkeys come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, from the little pygmy marmoset, which is just 4.6–6.2 inches (12–16 cm) long, to the enormous mandrill, which may grow to be 37 inches (94 cm) long.

Monkeys usually have flat features, forward-facing eyes, and nimble hands with opposable thumbs. Additionally, some species have prehensile tails that they may utilize to grip and move items or hang from branches.

the monkeys' diet

The majority of monkeys eat a variety of foods, including fruits, leaves, seeds, insects, and small animals. Others, like the capuchin monkey, have a more diversified diet. Some species, like the howler monkey, exclusively eat leaves.

Monkey social behavior

Highly gregarious creatures, monkeys typically live in groups called armies. These troops might have a small number of members or hundreds of them. Monkey colonies frequently have social hierarchies, with the dominant animals benefiting from advantages including easier access to food and more favorable chances for mating. Monkeys groom each other to establish social ties and communicate through vocalizations, body language, and facial expressions.

Use of tools and intelligence

The cognitive ability, problem-solving aptitude, and occasionally tool use of monkeys are well recognized. Some macaques have been recorded using sticks to remove insects off tree bark, while capuchin monkeys have been seen using pebbles to split open nuts.

Additionally, studies have revealed that monkeys are able to recognize themselves in mirrors, which is seen as an indication of self-awareness, and comprehend simple mathematics.

Monkey conservation

Threats to several monkey species include habitat loss, killing, and the illicit pet trade. There are ongoing conservation efforts to save these primates and their natural habitats, including the creation of protected areas, reintroduction plans, and public awareness campaigns to highlight the significance of protecting monkey populations.

In conclusion, monkeys are intriguing, intelligent beings with sophisticated social systems and a wide range of behavioral traits. We learn more about these monkeys' cognitive capacities and the evolutionary connections between humans and other primates as we continue to study them.

Various more creatures that can solve problems

Yes, many animals show the ability to solve problems, proving that many types of animals possess intelligence and cognitive capacities. Animals who are particularly good at solving problems include:

Corvids such as crows

These birds have been seen utilizing tools to get food, and they are renowned for their outstanding problem-solving abilities. For instance, they may make hooks out of bent wire to get food from difficult-to-reach areas and utilize sticks to extricate insects from tree bark or cracks.


Elephants are very clever creatures that can solve difficult problems. They have been spotted utilizing twigs and branches to swat flies or scratch difficult-to-reach locations and are capable of self-recognition in mirrors, which suggests that they are conscious of their actions. Elephants have proven that can work together to solve issues, such as tugging a rope simultaneously to collect food, in order to solve problems.


Dolphins are renowned for their wit and capacity for problem-solving. When hunting on the ocean floor, they have been seen employing equipment like sponges to shield their snouts. Additionally, dolphins have been demonstrated to identify themselves in mirrors, demonstrating self-awareness. They can also learn and comprehend complicated directions.


These very smart crustaceans have shown amazing problem-solving abilities. By manipulating things and their surroundings, octopuses have been seen opening jars, traversing mazes, and eluding capture. They are outstanding problem solvers thanks to their exceptional learning and memory capacities.


Along with humans, domesticated dogs have evolved, and they now possess a variety of problem-solving abilities. They are able to pick up commands, comprehend gestures, and use human cues to solve issues like finding concealed things or overcoming hurdles. Breeds with a reputation for intellect and problem-solving prowess include border collies and poodles.


Chimpanzees are the closest surviving cousins of humans and share many cognitive abilities with us. They have been seen utilizing sponges made of leaves to collect water and sticks to retrieve termites from their mounds. Additionally, chimpanzees exhibit sophisticated social behaviors like deceit and collaboration that need for analytical thinking.


Rats are highly clever rodents that have demonstrated the capacity to solve issues and gain knowledge from their mistakes. They are able to find their way through complicated mazes, spot patterns, and have a basic comprehension of cause and consequence. Additionally, rats have been shown employing tools and changing their behavior in response to past experiences.

These instances show that numerous animal species, not only humans, possess the capacity to solve problems. Understanding these creatures' cognitive abilities and the evolution of their intelligence will help us understand the variety of problem-solving techniques used by species throughout the animal kingdom.