Pigeons are smart enough to perceive abstract concepts like time and space

6 Replies, 450 Views

Pigeons are smart enough to perceive abstract concepts like time and space

Ephrat Livni


Quote:Research on rhesus monkeys shows they respond like humans to such tests, suggesting the psychological interdependence of space and time isn’t uniquely human. But monkeys and humans, both primates, share key neural structures like a cerebral cortex.

Pigeons don’t have the same cognitive mechanisms yet they respond similarly to space and time tests. They even seem to experience the same conceptual interdependence as monkeys and humans, says cognitive psychologist Edward Wasserman, the lead author on the study. His team found that pigeons, like people, perceived a connection between the length of the lines and passage of time. “Remarkably, pigeons behaved just as did humans and monkeys,” Wasserman says.

“This surprising interdependence violates the belief that—at least psychologically—space and time are independent dimensions,” Wasserman says.

People’s higher-level thinking—musing about philosophy, say, and understanding abstractions like space and time—happens in the parietal cortex, which is part of the cerebral cortex. But pigeons don’t have a parietal cortex, so they’re processing these concepts somewhere else, the psychologist explains.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


[-] The following 1 user Likes Sciborg_S_Patel's post:
  • Typoz
(2020-09-13, 01:19 AM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Pigeons are smart enough to perceive abstract concepts like time and space

Ephrat Livni

Quote:People’s higher-level thinking—musing about philosophy, say, and understanding abstractions like space and time—happens in the parietal cortex, which is part of the cerebral cortex. But pigeons don’t have a parietal cortex, so they’re processing these concepts somewhere else, the psychologist explains.

There's a somewhat casual use of terms such as 'thinking' and 'understanding'. These words refer to abstractions, it may be that there are sometimes physical correlations, but I'm not convinced that a concept such as 'understanding' can be pinpointed to a physical location. By contrast, we can have computers capable of processing vast quantities of data, and following an algorithm, arrive at some sort of response or output. But I don't consider a computer 'understands' anything at all.
[-] The following 4 users Like Typoz's post:
  • Sciborg_S_Patel, Silence, tim, Obiwan
I’d have thought it could be quite difficult to assess what a pigeon “understands”.
[-] The following 6 users Like Obiwan's post:
  • Brian, Sciborg_S_Patel, Silence, tim, OmniVersalNexus, Typoz
(2020-09-13, 09:31 AM)Obiwan Wrote: I’d have thought it could be quite difficult to assess what a pigeon “understands”.

No matter what a pigeon understands, I have come to see them as beautiful, interesting creatures. Taking some interest in their behaviour and watching them in the garden of our new house, I now have a new respect and even love of them. 

I guess that’s more than enough.  Praying hands
Oh my God, I hate all this.   Surprise
[-] The following 6 users Like Stan Woolley's post:
  • tim, Sciborg_S_Patel, Silence, Typoz, Obiwan, Laird
(2020-09-13, 12:19 PM)Stan Woolley Wrote: No matter what a pigeon understands, I have come to see them as beautiful, interesting creatures. Taking some interest in their behaviour and watching them in the garden of our new house, I now have a new respect and even love of them. 

I guess that’s more than enough.  Praying hands

Yes I love pretty much all wildlife in its right place. I was watching two wood pigeons canoodling on our roof yesterday. It was rather sweet.
[-] The following 3 users Like Obiwan's post:
  • tim, Sciborg_S_Patel, Stan Woolley
(2020-09-13, 08:56 AM)Typoz Wrote: There's a somewhat casual use of terms such as 'thinking' and 'understanding'. These words refer to abstractions, it may be that there are sometimes physical correlations, but I'm not convinced that a concept such as 'understanding' can be pinpointed to a physical location. By contrast, we can have computers capable of processing vast quantities of data, and following an algorithm, arrive at some sort of response or output. But I don't consider a computer 'understands' anything at all.

I think this is part of the mystery, there's some connection between structures of the physical body and mental capacity exhibited in this life.

Regarding computers I also doubt there's any understanding there - the understanding lies with the programmer or at least the algorithm designer.

With animals, which are not artifacts in the way computers are, I do think the understanding is within the being. However I also suspect the first person PoV can enter into different bodies with different structures, and these structures limit the capacity for abstraction in different ways.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


[-] The following 4 users Like Sciborg_S_Patel's post:
  • tim, Laird, Obiwan, Typoz
I was talking with a good friend today about this. He suggested that consciousness may be  universal (or beyond). It led me to consider that perhaps every living thing expresses this universal consciousness (if it exists), to the extent that its physical structure permits. 

So the biblical quote “not even a single sparrow falls without your Father knowing it” might make sense if actually, the sparrow has a direct connection to this consciousness. The sparrow’s consciousness being an expression of the ‘great spirit” as Silver Birch was said to have expressed it through a medium. Then of course this great “spirit” would know instantly. Just musing...

As for computers knowing anything, I’m inclined to agree. However, it may be possible for this universal consciousness to express itself through a machine as well as a living organism. I’m not sure what that would mean.
[-] The following 3 users Like Obiwan's post:
  • tim, Typoz, Sciborg_S_Patel

  • View a Printable Version
Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)