The parrot knows shapes

When he looks at a Kanizsa triangle, the famous optical illusion made up of three Pac-Man figures facing each other, Griffin doesn’t just see three figures converging on each other. He sees a triangle. That might not seem significant, until you realize that Griffin is a parrot. Despite a visual system vastly different from that of humans, the bird can successfully identify Kanizsa figures and occluded shapes, said Ken Nakayama, the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology, and Irene Pepperberg, a research associate in the Psychology Department, co-authors of a study on the subject. The findings, they said, suggest that birds may process visual information in a similar way to humans. The findings are described in a paper recently published in the journal Cognition. “There are 300 million years of evolution…

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