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
JUN 27, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUN 27, 2018
Kansas Zoo Flamingo Escapee Spotted in Texas
Kansas Zoo lost two of its flamingos in 2005 after negligent staff allowed them to go too long between feather trimming procedures, a measure that was used...
JUL 18, 2018
Cannabis Sciences
JUL 18, 2018
Light controls variants of active ingredient in cannabis
Chemists have synthesized several variants of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. The ability to alter its structure with light has led to a new tool f...
AUG 20, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 20, 2018
Researchers Observe Unexplained Bird Decline in Northern New Mexico
Researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory have been left stumped after perusing through several years’ worth of archived data associated wi...
AUG 28, 2018
Earth & The Environment
AUG 28, 2018
African savannas are emitting three times the CO2 than thought
The Miombo woodlands extend over 2.5 million square kilometers across Africa, passing through Angola, Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique. This ecosystem provi...
SEP 10, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 10, 2018
The WWF is Outfitting Tanzanian Elephants with Satellite-Trackable Collars
Animal poachers frequently target elephants because their ivory tusks can rake in a significant profit on the black market. But contemporary technological ...
SEP 12, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 12, 2018
Global Turtle Decline Adversely Impacts the Surrounding Ecosystem
The Earth is home to a wide assortment of turtle species, but many populations continue to decline despite rigorous conservation efforts that are intended...
Loading Comments...