Monkeys move together like humans do

Jan. 28, 2013 at 4:27 PM

TOKYO, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Primates have been found to modify their body movements to be in tune with others just like humans do, researchers in Japan say.

Humans unconsciously modify their movements to be in synchrony with their peers, scientists at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute said, for example when they adapt their pace to walk in step or clap in unison at the end of a concert.

In an experiment, pairs of macaque monkeys were also found to spontaneously coordinate their movements to reach synchrony, a RIKEN release reported Monday.

The monkeys, taught to push a button with one hand, increased or decreased the speed of their push-button movement to be in synchrony with another monkey, whether the partner was real or presented as a video.

Such neurophysiological studies of spontaneous synchronization in monkeys could shed light into human behavioral dysfunctions such as those observed in patients with autism spectrum disorders, echopraxia and echolalia -- where patients uncontrollably imitate others, they researchers said.

Still, they said, more research will be needed.

"The reasons why the monkeys showed behavioral synchronization are not clear," the researchers wrote in the journal Scientific Reports. "It may be a vital aspect of other socially adaptive behavior, important for survival in the wild."

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