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: Violence rates can be halved in just 30 years, say leading experts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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'.

Birds can dance, really

Apr 30, 2009

Researchers at Harvard University have found that humans aren't the only ones who can groove to a beat -- some other species can dance, too. This capability was previously believed to be specific to humans. ...

Recommended for you

Entrepreneurs aren't overconfident gamblers

6 hours ago

Leaving one's job to become an entrepreneur is inarguably risky. But it may not be the fear of risk that makes entrepreneurs more determined to succeed. A new study finds entrepreneurs are also concerned about what they might ...

New branch added to European family tree

8 hours ago

The setting: Europe, about 7,500 years ago. Agriculture was sweeping in from the Near East, bringing early farmers into contact with hunter-gatherers who had already been living in Europe for tens of thousands ...

User comments : 0