I’ve never been a big fan of “Deal or No Deal,” the game show where contestants pick from a series of suitcases with different dollar amounts in them, hoping the smaller numbers are revealed so they end up with a big payout.
My gripe is that it takes very little or no skill. I like games where if I perform well, I have a chance to improve my odds. This game is all about random chance — pick a number and hope it’s the right one.
Now science has confirmed that a trained monkey can play Deal or No Deal, and the primates actually feal regret when they find out they’ve picked wrong.
Researchers at Duke University gave a group of rhesus macaques a choice of eight white squares to choose from. Underneath each square was a different color corresponding to a reward, the best being sugary fruit juice. After choosing, the monkeys were also shown the rewards they missed out on. When shown they missed out on the juice, the monkeys tried harder.
Brain scans revealed that when playing the game, the monkeys used a center of the brain which analyzes the consequences of actions. That same area also became active when the monkeys were shown what they passed up, suggesting they were thinking about what they might have won.
As interesting as these findings are, I find myself feeling sorry for the monkeys who missed out on the juice, knowing they that understood they missed their chance at a sweet reward.
Now if I could just get a group of scientists to analyze my theory that a trained monkey could replace Howie Mandel as the host of Deal or No Deal.
- Staff Writer Bryan Dean