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A Way-Too-Detailed Analysis of Projectile Throwing in Chimpanzees (And Resulting Effects in Brain Matter and Behavior)

As we’ve previously stated on this blog, if you want to do science, you need to get familiar with how scientists talk (and write) so that you will be better equipped to 1) discern what is research, and what is BS and 2) effectively communicate your ideas in findings in ways that are professional and supported by evidence. For your casual reading pleasure, here is a journal article from 2012 on the brain differences between chimpanzees that throw objects vs chimps that do not.

Results were reported on n=78 chimps using MRI. If you look at section 3c in results, the authors reported only Communication returned a statistically significant difference between throwers and non throwers. This concept of statistical significance is based on the ANOVA test (ANalysis Of VAriance), which is a statistical method for determining the probability that the observed difference between two different groups (throwers vs non-throwers) occurred by chance. If this probability is low, then the results are reported as “statistically significant”, meaning it is unlikely the observed pattern is random and therefore is actually caused by the variable “throwing”. We’ll revisit ANOVA in more detail, for your pleasure (or horror) in a later article.

“We further found that asymmetries in WM within both brain regions were larger in the hemisphere contralateral to the chimpanzee’s preferred throwing hand. We also found that chimpanzees that reliably throw show significantly better communication abilities than chimpanzees that do not.”

So, when is Tom Brady going to start a relationship therapy talk show?

cr. Jim Davis, Boston Globe



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