SEP 30, 2016 11:21 AM PDT

Study Shows Pigeons Can Learn to Recognize Real Words

It’s long been documented that birds are smart critters, but Dr Damian Scarf from the University of Otago’s Department of Psychology has gone a step further by demonstrating how it’s possible to train pigeons to recognize real words and differentiate them from fake words.
 

Pigeons are smarter than we give them credit for.

 
In a study documented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Scarf and his colleagues trained pigeons to pay attention to a screen that displayed both an English word and a star. If the word was a real word, the pigeon needed to peck the word, but if the word was gibberish, then the bird would need to peck the star.
 
The words were limited to simple ones, but were both real and fake nonetheless. Using their skills in visual processing, pigeons seem more than capable of recognizing one from another; with a little training, of course.
 
Out of a grand total of 18 pigeons, just four of them were capable of accurately distinguishing between whether a word was real or not more than half of the time, so research was later limited to just those four.
 
With an accuracy rate of above average, it has been shown that the pigeons are capable of learning human vocabulary.
 
Even to eliminate the chance that they were merely memorizing what words looked like, the researchers occasionally showed them new words they’ve never seen before and continued to see above-average accuracy.
 
"These findings demonstrate that visual systems neither genetically nor organizationally similar to humans can be recycled to represent the orthographic code that defines words," the researchers commented.

A video shared on YouTube by lead researcher Damian Scarf shows one of the pigeons in action:
 


Next time you call someone a ‘bird brain,’ they might be able to take it as a compliment instead of an insult. It seems they’ve got the mind power to recognize patterns, but just aren’t conditioned to do it all their lives like we are.
 
Source: Science Alert

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 31, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 31, 2018
Study Suggests Extinct Elephant Birds Were Nocturnal and Nearly Blind
Elephant birds were massive birds that went extinct a long time ago. Some estimates suggest the last of the species perished some 500 to 1,000 years ago, b...
NOV 05, 2018
Videos
NOV 05, 2018
The Mechanisms Underlying the Deadly Blow of the Mantis Shrimp
The mantis shrimp packs a powerful punch that can strike its enemies with one of the fastest moves in the animal kingdom....
NOV 06, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 06, 2018
How do Moths Avoid Being Eaten by Bats? The Secret Might Lie in Their 'Fur'
It’s no secret that bats enjoy munching on moths when they’re feeling a bit hungry, but one thing that has always captivated scientists is how...
NOV 09, 2018
Earth & The Environment
NOV 09, 2018
Can Amazon trees keep up?
New research from the University of Leeds and the collaboration of 30 global Institutions suggest that the Amazon tree diversity will not be sufficient to...
NOV 26, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 26, 2018
Predation Drives Reproductive Patterns in Rodents, Study Finds
Smaller mammals, especially rodents, are rather low on the universal food chain. Due to the nature of their bite-sized physique, larger predators often tak...
JAN 08, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 08, 2019
A Genetic Recipe for Monogamy
Is it natural to remain committed to a mate for life? Researchers at the University of Texas Austin have used genetics to learn more about monogamy....
Loading Comments...