How a coughing ape is changing our ideas about animals, humans and language

first_imgThe Washington Post:The 280-pound gorilla fits awkwardly in the lab at the Gorilla Foundation, her domed head brushing up against the cabinets that hang just below the ceiling. She looks into the camera and touches a lone, large finger to her lips, waiting.“How about when you’re, um, coughing?” researcher Penny Patterson asks from off screen.Koko the gorilla raises a hand to her mouth, waits a beat, then wheezes into it, sounding every bit like an aging smoker.“That was good!” Patterson cheers, while Koko holds a massive hand out to her, as though accepting the praise.…For a recent study in the journal Animal Cognition, language researchers Marcus Perlman and Nathaniel Clark mined Gorilla Foundation recordings to identify nine distinct “vocal and breathing behaviors,” that Koko has learned from more than 40 years living with humans, including coughing, blowing into the recorder and “speaking” into the phone.…“There’s a longstanding idea that nonhuman primates they have an extremely limited ability to learn new vocalizations and to control those vocalizations voluntarily,” Perlman, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Wisconsin and the paper’s lead author, told The Washington Post. “But the Koko case study shows that’s not true. She was able to acquire new vocal behaviors and also breathing, and that suggests there’s a basic capacity in place with great apes, that maybe this capacity over millions of years evolved into what we now know as speech.”Read the whole story: The Washington post More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

St. Benedict Rebels enjoy a brilliant two-year run

first_imgOne thing the girls on the St. Benedict School’s varsity softball team are not lacking is spirit. During the past two seasons, during which time the Holmdel squad posted a 26-1 mark, the girls showed unparalleled team spirit both on and off the field. Led by head coach Sal Messina and assistant coach Joanne Tempora, the Rebels not only learned the fundamentals of the game, but also the value of team play and having a positive attitude. With a roster of 18 girls, these coaches worked hard at making every effort to get every girl her deserved playing time, and in doing so, taught every girl that although winning is great, having each player contribute to the success of the team is even more important. Last year’s 13-1 season came to an end with the Rebels’ only loss of the year, a tough defeat at the hands of St. Mary’s. Even after that loss, the girls were reminded to keep their heads high and to be proud of their accomplishments. This year, the Rebels were off to another winning start, and reached 11-0 through a series of hard-fought games. On six occasions, the team found itself trailing going into the seventh inning, only to battle back each time and get the win. Having reached the playoffs with an undefeated mark, the Rebels first knocked off St. Agnes and advanced to face Holy Family in the second round. This game proved to be another testament to the Rebels’ tenacity and determination, as they continued to fight back from numerous deficits and eventually won a 12-11 battle. In the championship game, the Rebels took on St. James of Red Bank and jumped ahead early, 3-0. St. James retaliated with five runs in the third inning, and the score remained that way until the seventh inning. In the seventh, the Rebels rallied to tie the game at 5-5, and got the win with a two-out infield hit. It was another magical comeback effort for a Rebel team that displayed endless spirit and a championship-caliber determination. The end result was a testament to both the players’ and coaches’ positive attitude translating into a banner season. The Rebel players are Tiffany Dossantos, Casey Solona, Kati DelPrioria, Kasey Bulman, Danielle Ford, Meghan Hess, Maryanne Ricca, Shannon Savoia, Kristin Murray, Maddie Fahey, Lauren McCue, Joanna Kierce, Laura Andrews, Brittany Young, Beth Osipowitz, Kaitlin Zielaznicki, Kristyn Tempora and Kimme Eder.last_img read more