Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Grey Parrots

  title={Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Grey Parrots},
  author={Irene M. Pepperberg},
  journal={Current Directions in Psychological Science},
  pages={83 - 87}
  • I. Pepperberg
  • Published 1 June 2002
  • Psychology
  • Current Directions in Psychological Science
Grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) solve various cognitive tasks and acquire and use English speech in ways that often resemble those of very young children. Given that the psittacine brain is organized very differently from that of mammals, these results have intriguing implications for the study and evolution of vocal learning, communication, and cognition. 

Cooperative problem solving in African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus)

In this study, cooperative problem solving in African grey parrots was tested using several experimental setups to explore the different levels of behavioural organisation between participants, differing in temporal and spatial complexity.

Context-related vocalizations in African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus)

It is observed that only three call categories were shared by all grey parrots populations, suggesting that isolated populations of parrots develop population-specific calls.

Speaking of psittacine research

Research with other grey parrots has led to further appreciation of their cognitive and communicative facilities, and at least one grey parrot, named ‘Griffin,’ seems to understand the notion of reciprocity.

How intelligent is a cephalopod? Lessons from comparative cognition

A general overview of cephalopod cognition is provided with a particular focus on the cognitive attributes that are thought to be prerequisites for more complex cognitive abilities, and different types of behavioural flexibility exhibited by cepinghalopods are discussed.

Use of experimenter-given cues by African gray parrots (Psittacus erithacus)

The ability of three African gray parrots to use different human cues (pointing and/or gazing) in an object-choice task is tested and sensitivity to joint attention as a prerequisite to understand pointing gestures as it is to the referential use of labels is discussed.

Do Bats Have the Necessary Prerequisites for Symbolic Communication?

This work highlights potential training paradigms that could be used to elicit simple “symbolic” bat-human communication, i.e., training bats to select arbitrary symbols on a touchscreen to elicit a desired behavior of the human caregiver.

Do Great Grey Owls Comprehend Means-end Relationships?

Cognitive abilities of the Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa) were tested with a means–end problem. Owls were presented the single baited string task and the string discrimination task. Our results



Social Learning of Vocal Patterns and Modes of their Application in Grey Parrots (Psittacus erithacus)1,2,3

We have developed a method which allowed us to teach Grey Parrots special vocal patterns with a good success. The birds uttered these in antiphonal duets (Fig. 1, Table 1). The duets were performed

Numerical competence in an African gray parrot (Psittacus erithacus).

An African gray parrot (Psittacus erithacus), Alex, trained to label vocally collections of 1-6 simultaneously presented homogeneous objects, correctly identified, without further training,

Vocal learning in the Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus): effects of species identity and number of trainers.

Specific aspects of paired tutoring seem critical for acquiring referential vocal labels, and 2-trainer modeling with training by 1 human who presented targeted labels to a bird in concert with appropriate items, who asked questions, and who would reward attempts at the label with the item.

Simultaneous development of vocal and physical object combinations by a Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus): bottle caps, lids, and labels.

The authors found a comparable, if limited, parallel combinatorial development in a Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus), and suggest that the search for and arguments concerning responsible substrates and common behavior should be approached with care and should not be restricted to the primate line.

Acquisition of a relative class concept by an African gray parrot (Psittacus erithacus): discriminations based on relative size.

An African gray parrot, Alex, responds to stimuli on a relative basis and after learning to respond to a small set of exemplars on the basis of relative size, transferred this behavior to novel situations that did not provide specific information about the absolute values of the stimuli.

Acquisition of the same/different concept by an African Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus): Learning with respect to categories of color, shape, and material

An African Grey parrot, previously taught to use vocal English labels to discriminate more than 80 different objects and to respond to questions concerning categorical concepts of color and shape,

Do birds possess homologues of mammalian primary visual, somatosensory and motor cortices?

The codes of man and beasts

  • D. Premack
  • Computer Science, Psychology
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • 1983
Abstract Exposing the chimpanzee to language training appears to enhance the animal's ability to perform some kinds of tasks but not others. The abilities that are enhanced involve abstract judgment,

Language comprehension in ape and child.

Comparisons of the language comprehension skills of a 2-year-old child and an 8 year-old bonobo who was raised in a language environment similar to that in which children are raised but specifically modified to be appropriate for an ape suggest that the potential for language comprehension preceded the appearance of speech by several million years at minimum.