We welcome you to the open lecture of Professor Irene Pepperberg, held as a part of the 3rd International Conference "Neurobiology of Speech and Language". Simultaneous English-Russian translation will be provided.
When: June 1, 17.00
Where: 22-ya Liniya V.O., 7, Assembly Hall
Harvard University, Cambridge, USA
I have studied the cognitive and communicative abilities of Grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) for over forty years. My students and I train parrots to use elements of English speech, then use this capacity for symbolic representation to test their intelligence. The paradigm allowed us to test one bird, Griffin, on the classic Piagetian probability task (three items of one type and one of another are hidden in a bucket, one item is surreptitiously removed; the subject is asked to label that object). Griffin correctly matched probabilities by appropriately vocally producing the most likely (though not necessarily the correct) answer; he scored at a level comparable to ~7 year-old children and outperformed apes. Even when symbolic representation is not explicitly required for a task, it may be crucial for success. In a study of visual working memory manipulation (a more complicated variation of the “shell game”), Griffin outperformed even 8-year old children and was close to the level of adult humans; we suspect he used mental symbolic rehearsal in order to succeed.