Savage-Rumbaugh et al (1986)
Nature-Nurture debate = considers the extent to which genetics and biology determine who we are and the extent to which our experiences make us who we are. Is the ability to communicate using human language learned or does it arise as the result of an innate biological structure in the human brain? This study reports the language development of Kanzi, a pygmy chimpanzee (bonobo) who used symbols (lexigrams) to communicate with humans. The report contrasts how Kanzi, unlike common chimpanzees, began spontaneously to use symbols and also understood spoken English, and suggests that pygmy chimpanzees have symbolic and auditory perceptual skills that are different from common chimpanzees.This study arose as a result of 'a serendipitous' occurence, when Kanzi was observed spontaneously to start using the symbols, perhaps as a result of observing his mother using symbols, to communicate with humans.
Longitudinal case study.
The Particpant: A pygmy chimpanzee, Kanzi born 28/10/80 in captivity in the Yerkes Regional Primate Centre, USA. His mother was a 'language chimp'. Kanzi was assigned to the language research centre at 6 months old and was reared in a 'language using' environment with humans. When he was 2.5 years old, after being seperated from his mother, he was observed spontaneously to start using symbols. Without training, Kanzi identified symbols…