Parrot understands concept akin to zero

Jul 09, 2005

A Brandeis University researcher in Massachusetts has shown that an African grey parrot understands a numerical concept akin to zero.

Zero is an abstract notion that humans don't typically understand until ages 3 or 4.

Alex, a 28-year-old African grey parrot, lives in the lab run by comparative psychologist and cognitive scientist Dr. Irene Pepperberg. The parrot spontaneously and correctly used the label "none" during a testing session of his counting skills to describe an absence of a numerical quantity on a tray.

The discovery prompted a series of trials in which Alex consistently demonstrated the ability to identify zero quantity by saying the label "none."

The findings, published in the current issue of The Journal of Comparative Psychology, add to a growing body of scientific evidence that the avian brain, though physically and organizationally different from the mammalian cortex, is capable of higher cognitive processing than previously thought.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Intergenerational transmission of abuse and neglect more complicated than previously believed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Genes tell story of birdsong and human speech

Dec 11, 2014

His office is filled with all sorts of bird books, but Duke neuroscientist Erich Jarvis didn't become an expert on the avian family tree because of any particular interest in our feathered friends. Rather, ...

Beat-keeping sea lion shows surprising rhythmic ability

Feb 15, 2014

Ronan, a California sea lion at Long Marine Laboratory at the University of California, Santa Cruz, became an Internet sensation last year when UCSC scientists published a paper describing her ability to ...

Talk to the animals (w/ video)

May 02, 2011

When African Grey parrots talk, do they mimic sounds or consciously understand their speech? Irene Pepperberg, a comparative psychologist at both Brandeis and Harvard universities believes African Greys actually ...

Laugh and apes laugh with you

Mar 02, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Just like humans, chimpanzees mimic the laughter of their playmates even if they don't find the situation as 'funny'.

Recommended for you

Destroyed Mosul artefacts to be rebuilt in 3D

3 hours ago

It didn't take long for the scientific community to react. Two weeks after the sacking of the 300 year-old Mosul Museum by a group of ISIS extremists went viral on Youtube, researchers from the ITN-DCH, IAPP ...

Boys plagiarise more than girls at school

4 hours ago

Research by the University of the Balearic Islands has analysed the phenomenon of academic plagiarism among secondary school students. The study, published in the journal Comunicar, confirms that this practi ...

Economist probes the high cost of health care

5 hours ago

When Zack Cooper arrived at Yale as assistant professor of public health and economics, he gained access to a first-of-its-kind dataset. Working with the non-profit Health Care Cost Institute, Cooper and ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.