by Katie the Lowly Intern
Does the sinking feeling of knowing you could have gotten what you wanted had you made better choices in life sound familiar? Like how if in college, had you gotten a real degree, set goals for yourself, and not tried to buy friendships with your credit card, you could possibly now have a steady job, ambition, and friends? If it does, then you may rest easier tonight knowing there is a term for that: “fictive thinking”. And guess what… monkeys get it too!
Researchers at Duke University have concluded that monkeys don’t respond solely to direct punishment or rewards for their actions. They can, according to the scientists, actually adjust future behavior when shown the reward or punishment they would have received had they chosen to behave differently.
The guys at Duke demonstrated this by setting eight different cards face down in front of a single monkey, each of the eight cards corresponding to a certain amount of juice. Monkeys like juice enough to cooperate with this insultingly childish experiment, apparently. After the monkey picked his one card, he was shown what amounts of juice he could have gotten had he chosen one of the other cards. The wires that were stuck into the brain of these live monkeys showed that their little chimpy neurons fired like crazy when they were shown the bigger prizes they missed. In following trials, the monkeys tended to pick the card that corresponded to the biggest prize from the first trial.
It is thought that this research can be used to further our understanding of how compulsive gamblers think, and that it may correlate to their obsession with the “what could have been”. The monkeys at Deep Sea News are hoping they further understand this really soon. In the end, the monkeys got their juice and the scientists got their fellowship funding.
Now here’s Teka performing her dance hit, “Monkey Juice”: