Michael J. Beran, Ph.D.

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The Language Research Center Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

Lana, a female chimpanzee, was born in 1970. She was the first chimpanzee to be taught lexigrams by Duane Rumbaugh in an effort to examine her ability to learn the syntax of an artificial language. Lana has remained an important subject in many research projects at the Language Research Center. She has participated in studies of counting and other areas of numerical cognition, memory, planning, delay of gratification, language learning, object permanence and other studies conducted by other researchers.

Sherman, a male chimpanzee, was born in 1973.  Sherman was co-reared with another chimpanzee in a study of language acquisition.  Sherman has an extensive history in cognitive tests, and he has served as a participant in  studies of counting, summation, delay of gratification, object permanence, planning, and language acquisition. 

Panzee, a female chimpanzee, was born in 1985. Panzee was raised with a bonobo (Pan paniscus) in a comparative study of language acquisition. Unlike with Lana and Sherman, Panzee was never intentionally taught to use lexigrams. Instead, she was reared in an environment much like that of human children. She learned to use lexigrams from watching other humans use the symbols around her in communicatively valid contexts. Panzee also spontaneously demonstrated comprehension of spoken English, and her comprehension has remained high across the years. In addition to language acquisition research, Panzee has served in experiments examining memory, object permanence, planning, delay of gratification, and brain imaging of language comprehension.

Mercury, a male chimpanzee, was born in 1986. Mercury is the only of the four chimpanzees not to be taught or to learn the lexigram system. Mercury was thus reared as a control subject in language acquisition research. However, Mercury has played a valuable role in research into counting, delay of gratification, planning, and other areas of cognitive psychology.