Monkeys Synchronize their Actions just like Humans : The World We Share

How often have you matched your steps with your friend to walk at the same pace? We humans, tend to synchronise our actions with people around us many times like clapping after a concert or cheering for a team to win. Now scientists say that apes and monkeys do the same thing as well making it a common primate trait.

Scientists at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute studied macaque monkeys and noted that they too like humans spontaneously coordinate their movements to reach synchrony.

The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Researcher Naotaka Fujii and his team set up an experiment for Japanese macaque monkeys to see whether the monkeys synchronized their movements during a simple push-button exercise.

Before the experiment, the monkeys were trained to push a button with one hand. Then a pair of monkeys were positioned in front of each other and the timing of their movement was recorded as they pushed the button.

In the second part of the experiment each monkey was placed in front of a video of a monkey pushing buttons. The speed of the action was made slower or faster. In the third part, the monkeys were not shown any videos or had a partner.

The scientists found that the monkeys automatically synchronized the speed of their hand movement with that of the partner, whether it was a real one or in the video. The speed of the button pressing changed and was in harmony with each other.

The report states that different pairs of monkeys synchronized differently and reached different speeds, and the monkeys synchronized their movements the most when they could both see and hear their partner.

The research team added that previous experiments have shown that it is very difficult for monkeys to be trained to intentionally synchronize their actions. Therefore, what they found was a natural subconscious process and monkeys act in harmony like humans when two or more are performing the same action.

“The reasons why the monkeys showed behavioral synchronization are not clear. It may be a vital aspect of other socially adaptive behavior, important for survival in the wild.”