Monkeys like TV too, brain scan study finds

Jun 18, 2010 The Yomiuri Shimbun

Humans are not the only primates that enjoy watching TV -- this was the discovery of a research team that monitored a monkey's brain activity while it watched TV and confirmed the animal was enjoying itself.

Feelings of anger and fear were evident from the monkey's facial expression, but feelings of joy could only be induced.

The Kyoto University Primate Research Institute team published its findings in a Swiss specialist journal June 13.

The team, led by Professor Nobuo Masataka, used optical topography to observe what parts of a rhesus monkey's brain were activated when it watched TV. Optical topography uses near-infrared light to record .

The team found the of the monkey's brain was activated by . This is the same part that is activated in humans when they feel joy, such as when a baby sees its mother smile.

In the experiment, the monkey watched a video of an elephant and a giraffe performing in a circus, and another of a monkey grooming itself. Its brain showed more activity when it watched the circus.

An increasing number of zoos have been showing their animals TV to break up the monotonous living environment. The research team has scientifically confirmed the effectiveness of the zoos' strategy, observers said.

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