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November 25 2012

Word-detecting baboons are a tough read

MINNEAPOLIS Baboons use the order of regularly appearing letter pairs to tell words from nonwords, new evidence suggests.

Psychologist Jonathan Grainger of the University of Aix-Marseille reported earlier this year that baboons can learn to tell real four-letter words from nonsense words (SN: 5/5/12, p. 5). But whether these animals detect signature letter combinations that enable their impressive word feats has been tough to demonstrate.

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