## Ultimate Problem Solving by a Crow

### Background

I know I wrote about how smart crows can be a few days back, but even when I wasn’t particularly searching for amazing crow videos, I happened to stumble upon an astounding video of a crow solving some puzzle. I was so blown away by this, that I couldn’t resist sharing another crow post in under two weeks. Hold your hats because this crow, nicknamed 007 will blow them off your heads.

Side note: Want to see a chimpanzee blow your mind? Watch him do a task that more than 95% of the humans wouldn’t be able to do as well as he can do it. – [Working Memory – Chimpanzees vs. Humans]

Alex studies wild birds which he releases after 3 months of research. This one is nicknamed 007 and it is about to attempt what Alex believes is one of the most complex tests for the animal mind ever constructed. The bird is familiar with the individual objects, but this is the first time he is seeing them arranged like this.

This video comes from a BBC show called ‘Inside the Animal Mind‘ hosted by Chris Packham. [Video]

In the video, a wild crow, previously not having learnt anything about the 8-part arrangement of the puzzle, manages to solve it with ease. I would have taken some time to figure out the solution.

8-Part sequence

1. The crow pulls out a small piece of stick from a thread.
2. It then approaches a box containing a piece of food and figures that it would need a longer stick to get it. It moves on with the smaller stick to take a stone out of another box.
3. Takes out another stone
4. And one more
5. Drops one of the three stones in a box which needs the weight of all three to release a longer stick.
6. Drops the second.
7. And the third. The longer stick is released. It takes the long stick.
8. Finally, the crow uses the longer stick to pull out food from the box mentioned in second point.

### How I try to believe it

Although when I say that the crow wasn’t aware of the arrangement, I mean to say that it wasn’t aware of the sequence in which the puzzle was meant to be solved. It seems as if it was trained with the individual tasks.

I’m guessing that the crow was trained for some time to complete the individual tasks separately and not in a particular sequence. The 8-part sequence was probably shown to it for the first time. I may be wrong. But, I think when the speaker says, “The bird is familiar with the individual objects“, my interpretation makes sense.

If I’m wrong, I yield and state that crows are just too intelligent and are going to take over the world in a few hundred years.

## Working Memory – Chimpanzees vs. Humans

###### By Anupum Pant

At least in one known cognitive area, chimpanzees prove to be far smarter than human beings. While it is possible for humans to train themselves up to some extent at it, they lack the capacity for an excellent working memory. On the other hand, chimps naturally display a remarkable working memory.

So, naturally the next question we’d ask – what exactly is working memory and how can I beat chimps at it?

But before that is answered, let us have a look at this study conducted by Japanese scientists.
In the study, scientists use a test where numbers from 1 to 9 are arranged on a screen randomly. The test taker is given a chance to remember all the nine positions. When the subject is ready, the areas go blank and the user is required to recall all the nine numbers in sequence. One mistake and the subject has to start over. In the test, we see this chimpanzee named Ayumu showing remarkable ability in terms of working memory. The opponent human loses badly.

BTW at this test, the chimp Ayumu, can now recall 19 numbers in sequence without making a single mistake. Not just Ayumu, this knack is observed in all chimps.

### Why?

As the researcher mentions, chimps are not the same as humans. Both humans and chimps had a common ancestor several millions of years ago. Now, both of these species have evolved in their own ways for all these years. While they’ve gotten good at something, we’ve picked up different abilities. You don’t have to feel bad about it.

This ability to actively hold multiple pieces of information in the mind and play with them has helped these chimps to survive in the wild by helping them to make quick decisions. As a result, they have evolved to master it.

### Training + Caveat

Although you can train yourself to have an amazing working memory, you’ll probably never be able to beat chimps. Also, you should know that very few humans have a nearly equal level of working memory as compared to chimps, and these are the people who are affected by a mental disability called the Savant syndrome. It is beyond common humans to train themselves to chimp-level-working memory.

A game known as n-back, used as a test and an exercise tool can help you to master your working memory. The game starts easy. Then you move on to the second level where things straight away move from easy to difficult. The next levels seem impossible at first. But it has been proved that this game can help you to improve your working memory. The harder you train, the better you get at it; of course, never as good as Ayumu.