Pigeons Can Use Touchscreens to Solve Puzzles
Pigeons are perpetually crumbling under the weight of their disease-filled diets of trash and sadness, but it turns out they're also pretty darn smart. In fact, they can even learn to play simple games on touchscreens in order to score food.
Pigeons are fairly intelligent creatures, and their ability to be trained or used as messengers suggests they have a modicum of memory and learning capability. But how smart are they exactly? According to research published in Animal Cognition, pigeons are capable of solving a pattern-based puzzle to earn a food reward. Better yet, they can do so even when the puzzle displayed on a touchscreen—a pretty abstract concept for a bird, wouldn't you say?
The experiment by researchers at the University of Iowa consisted of digital versions of string tasks, which are commonly used in cognition studies. The premise is simple: a study subject is given a pair of strings, with a food reward visibly attached to one of them. If the subject pulls the right string, it wins the reward. Simple, right? Even marmosets can do it.
But in this case, there was a wrinkle. The study pigeons didn't just have to look at two strings, realize one had food on the end of it, understand that pulling the string would bring the food, and act on it. They had to do so in a purely digital fashion.
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