Pigeons capture the abstract concepts of space and time: TreeHugger


New research adds to the growing recognition that animals beyond humans and primates show abstract intelligence.

Judging space and time is relatively easy for most of us, humans. Of course, some do it better than others, but the essence is that thanks to the parietal cortex of our brain, we do not need a clock and a rule to get an idea of ​​these abstract concepts.

Since & # 39; As members of the avian world have long been regarded as "fools", so to speak, and the fact that pigeons do not even have a parietal crust, it is badumed that besieged birds do not have much to climb on the floor of above. But now new research from the University of Iowa concludes that pigeons have much more cognitive capacity than we think. From the University:

Pigeons can discriminate abstract concepts of space and time, and seem to use a different region of the brain than humans and primates to do so. In the experiments, the pigeons were shown on a computer screen with a static horizontal line and had to judge their length or the amount of time that was visible to them. The pigeons judged that the longer lines also had a longer duration and considered that the longer lines were also longer.

Edward Wbaderman, Stuit professor of Experimental Psychology in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences of the UI, explains that the findings help to reinforce the growing recognition among scientists that animals such as birds, reptiles and fish are capable of making decisions abstract high level.

"In fact, the cognitive skills of birds are now considered increasingly closer to that of human and non-human primates," says Wbaderman, who has studied intelligence in a variety of animals for more than 40 years. "These avian nervous systems are capable of much greater achievements than the pejorative term" bird brain "would suggest.

The researchers subjected the pigeons to a series of tests designed to measure how birds processed time and space and they found that line the duration affected the discrimination of the pigeons on the duration of the line, and vice versa. "This interaction of space and time was parallel to the research conducted with humans and monkeys and revealed the common neuronal coding of these two dimensions physical The researchers previously believed that the parietal cortex was the site of this interaction, "says the University, but since pigeons do not have much parietal cortex, they can still process space and time in a similar way to humans and other primates. , have discovered other ways to do it.

"The cortex is not exclusive of judging space and time," says Benjamin De Corte, first author of the article "Pigeons have other brain systems that allow them to perceive these dimensions" This simply demonstrates, once again, that an organism does not have to perfectly imitate the human system to reach its own type of intelligence.

The document, "Coding of non-cortical magnitude of space and time by pigeons. "was published online in the journal Current Biology.

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