Monday, September 19, 2016

Scientists: pigeons are able to distinguish between words and gibberish – RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, 19 sen – news. The new Zealand and German psychologists found that street pigeons are able not only to count from one to nine, but to distinguish between meaningful words and gibberish on a computer screen, according to an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“the Fact that pigeons, which separates us from approximately 300 million years of evolution and whose brain is radically different from ours in structure, have the ability to orthographic processing information was a shock to us. Now we seriously have to consider whether birds have a “birdbrain”, as we like to say,” said Onur Güntürkün (Onur Gunturkun of the University of Ruhr (Germany).

long Enough for the most intelligent members of the animal world was considered to be chimpanzees and apes, but in recent years their position started to push some birds – new Caledonian crows that can make tools, solve puzzles on the uptake for 5-year-olds. Not far behind them are the usual crows and jays.

interestingly, the first hints of the ability of birds to account in the mind of scientists discovered not among the “smart” members of the genus Corvidae, but among ordinary pigeons that are traditionally considered rather stupid birds. As found by the Scarfe Damian (Damian Scarf of the University of Otago (New Zealand) in 2011, the pigeons were able to differentiate the numbers from one to nine, and to choose the group of figures on the screen where there were more.

In his new work of Scarfe and his colleagues have discovered another amazing ability of pigeons by examining whether these birds to repeat the achievement of monkeys and baboons, which the French primatologia taught four years ago to distinguish between random English words from four letters from the meaningless mumbo-Jumbo.

Scientists has simplified this task for the birds, you first teach them to distinguish between a few tens of English words, consistently adding new words to the lexicon of birds and teaching them to distinguish them from a few thousand random sets of letters. When four of a pigeon, participated in experiments, learned from 26 to 58 words, scientists started the “full” experiment by examining whether birds distinguish between unfamiliar English words similar in form but meaningless combinations of letters.

As shown by this experiment, pigeons were distinguished from the word Abracadabra with a probability greater than 50%, which suggests that they made their choice not by chance, but really had some idea about what makes words and Abracadabra, and domestic “flair” that enabled them to distinguish them from each other.

In favor of this is the fact that the success of the pigeons depended on how much output the letters were similar to the words for the different combinations of the probability of correct answer was increased to 90%. According to scientists, this indicator suggests that birds are not just memorized words, but have mastered the concept of word, which allowed them to distinguish even unknown words from Abracadabra.

overall, the majority of the pigeons coped with this task as well or even better than monkeys, which suggests that they are not inferior to them in this regard. This, according to Scarpa and his colleagues, once again demonstrates that man is not unique in the use of language and symbols for communication, and that birds can be used in experiments to study the roots of our linguistic abilities.


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