A new study shows that pigeons can learn to read, and may be able to distinguish words from a series of letters that makes no sense.
This makes the pigeons among the few animals that can learn to speak – an exclusive group that includes humans, monkeys and a dog called a rule.
Scientists from the University of Otago in New Zealand began their research with 18 pigeons ( “Columba livia”) and reduce using the four brightest type of exercise called “own forming”. “Established itself” includes the release of light through the hole or opening to attract the attention of the subject, and then after a few seconds given food.
In fact, with enough repetition, the subject learns that after the light comes food and the birds begin to peck the light as if it were their dinner.
The video below shows how the process works.
After training with food, entities was presented their first word. In this case it was a simple English word such as – “very” ( “very”), while in “non-word” were considered a series of letters that make no sense such as “help it” ( “vrey”).
The experiment involved a hundred something called “incentive star” – the star icon bird trains to Cluj deems word shown is not correct. Every time the bird accurately identified the word or “non-word” was rewarded with food.
“The word and” non-word “is displayed in the center of the square hole. When you display a word in the center, the correct answer is bird to Cluj word, when you display “non-word” in the center of the square, the correct response is to Cluj star stimulus “- the researchers report.
Each pigeon watched the first word 50 times, mixed together with a number of “non-words”. Once you have mastered the first word, adding to another word, with all the old words reserved by the program.
Four “smartest” birds managed to learn 43 words on average, with each bird was trained eight months. One of them, called “Q35” even managed to learn a whopping 58 words by the end of the experiment.
Doves surprisingly well varied words, the researchers say they were able to distinguish new words already familiar.
So how pigeons actually learn?
Researchers suggest that they can learn to read using the hypothetical and controversial system known as “neuronal recycling”.
Neuronal recycling hypothesis is an attempt to explain how humans developed the ability to read. The team suggests that instead of our brain to change physically over a hundred thousand years of evolution to beat reading. Our neurons had transferred their functionality to attach words to a picture, and thus their significance.
But still, the pigeons can not attach any meaning to the words that are displayed besides the obvious, to get food if guess.
Research shows that with sufficient training, monkeys and a smart pigeon or dog can learn to perform rudimental form of reading. Potential recycling channel brain to recognize letters and words, without the need of evolution.
You will have to follow further research in this field, because the idea of neuronal recycling is still disputed. And with only four pigeons who tested this time, definitely not a final research.
The results are published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences“.