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Pigeons distinguish between space and time

The duration and the length of the pigeons do not only feel like the primates and, like primates, they are confused.


(Photo: odenis83 / Depositphotos.)

For pigeons stretches glory not too bright creatures. However, they are actually smarter than some people think, and we repeatedly wrote about it. In particular, they have a pretty complicated social structure: in their flocks have leaders, but in the air and on the ground they follow different “commanders”, and, in addition, if the leader demonstrates incompetence, it simply no longer listen.

Also recently it became known that they are able to distinguish sense from nonsense (real words from meaningless letter sequences), and that they are able to accumulate General knowledge – when doves looking for a convenient way home, they use the “achievements” of more experienced colleagues.

The experiments researchers from the University of Iowa add pigeons even more crazy . Birds took a test on the perception of space and time, which are usually offered to the primates. On the screen appeared the figure of which you had to choose one, while in one case the figures differed in length (e.g., one was 6 cm and the other 24), and in another case they had time during which they were on the screen (for example, two seconds against eight). If dove correctly understood that you need to choose short pieces or long-lived, he received a treat.

In an article in Current Biology says that the birds have successfully coped with both tasks: they felt and the difference in the size of the object, and the difference in time of stay.

But the main thing was different: when the experiment started to mix both temporal and spatial, and the pigeons began to come into confusion. Now the bird looked at the pieces of different lengths, which remained on the screen different time lengths and time intervals have been others, not those to which the bird had used in the previous experiments. And, as it turned out, time and space in the brain of the pigeons affect each other: the time that figure was on the screen, the birds are perceived depending on their length and on the contrary, time itself in the bird’s perception depended on the size of the figures.

Why these results seem to be very important because until now, these features of perception were only observed in mammals, in connection with which even a hypothesis that in the brain in animals has a special Department (functional or anatomical), which evaluates the value as such. In other words, the same module assesses how much or how little time do we have many or few apples we ate either many or few miles we need to go – and because the values of different properties are sometimes mixed.

However, the mammalian brain is quite markedly different from the brain of birds, primarily the fact that birds have no cortex of the hemispheres. But in pigeons, as it turned out, the amount of time and physical size are mixed in the mind. So it turns out, the same cognitive operation could fulfill the brain with a different device.

In fact, in the brain of birds (and also reptiles, amphibians and fishes) is a kind of predecessor of the cortex – the so-called cloak of the brain, the layered structure covering the hemisphere. But the Cape was considered that the precursor of the cortex, that is, something more primitive and incapable of maintaining a sophisticated “computing.” Perhaps now the idea of the primitive avian brain need to reconsider – especially because in some respects it even outperforms the brain of primates.

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