Roger Fouts (Author of Next of Kin)
Scientist Speaks Chimp - Extraordinary Animals - Earth
Washoe, a Chimp of Many Words, Dies at 42
Director: Deborah H. Mission: The Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute is dedicated to research of communication between and within these species. It also strives to show that good empirical research can and must be humane. This includes developing ways to improve the basic living conditions of captive primates that address not only their physical needs, but their psychological needs as well. At the beginning of each academic year, new volunteers and 1 work-study employees are accepted to this laboratory and must be enrolled in Primate class that is only offered Fall quarter. Each student spends hours per week working in the lab.
All requests to use the collection must be vetted through the Friends of Washoe and the Director of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute. In , Beatrix and R. Allen Gardner began Project Washoe by cross-fostering i. A vital component of the cross-fostering environment was the exclusive use of American Sign Language ASL in communication between Washoe and her caregivers. Raised in this environment, Washoe acquired the signs of ASL in much the same way that deaf human children acquire the signs, making her the first non-human in history to acquire a human language. For the first time Washoe was able to interact with other chimpanzees.
An area of the brain involved in the planning and production of spoken and signed language in humans plays a similar role in chimpanzee communication, researchers report online on February 28th in the journal Current Biology, a publication of Cell Press. The results also suggest that the "neurobiological foundations" of human language may have been present in the common ancestor of modern humans and chimpanzees, he said. Scientists had identified Broca's area, located in part of the human brain known as the inferior frontal gyrus IFG , as one of several critical regions that light up with activity when people plan to say something and when they actually talk or sign. Anatomically, Broca's area is most often larger on the left side of the brain, and imaging studies in humans had shown left-leaning patterns of brain activation during language-related tasks, the researchers said. In the new study, the researchers non-invasively scanned the brains of three chimpanzees as they gestured and called to a person in request for food that was out of their reach. Those chimps showed activation in the brain region corresponding to Broca's area and in other areas involved in complex motor planning and action in humans, the researchers found.
She spent her early years playing in the backyard of a small house in Reno, Nev. But on Tuesday night, Washoe, a chimpanzee born in West Africa, died after a short illness, said Mary Lee Jensvold, assistant director of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, where Washoe had lived and learned for more than two decades. The chimp died in bed at age 42, surrounded by staff members and other primates who had been close to her, Dr. Jensvold said. Scientists had tried without success to teach nonhuman primates to imitate vocal sounds when R. Allen Gardner and Beatrix T.