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Original Essays | April 11, 2014

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The Alex Studies: Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Grey Parrots

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The Alex Studies: Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Grey Parrots Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Can a parrot understand complex concepts and mean what it says? Since the early 1900s, most studies on animal-human communication have focused on great apes and a few cetacean species. Birds were rarely used in similar studies on the grounds that they were merely talented mimics--that they were, after all, "birdbrains." Experiments performed primarily on pigeons in Skinner boxes demonstrated capacities inferior to those of mammals; these results were thought to reflect the capacities of all birds, despite evidence suggesting that species such as jays, crows, and parrots might be capable of more impressive cognitive feats.

Twenty years ago Irene Pepperberg set out to discover whether the results of the pigeon studies necessarily meant that other birds--particularly the large-brained, highly social parrots--were incapable of mastering complex cognitive concepts and the rudiments of referential speech. Her investigation and the bird at its center--a male Grey parrot named Alex--have since become almost as well known as their primate equivalents and no less a subject of fierce debate in the field of animal cognition. This book represents the long-awaited synthesis of the studies constituting one of the landmark experiments in modern comparative psychology.

Synopsis:

Twenty years ago Irene Pepperberg set out to discover whether large-brained, highly social parrots were capable of mastering complex cognitive concepts and the rudiments of referential speech. Her investigation and the bird at its center--a male Grey parrot named Alex--have since become almost as well known as their primate equivalents and no less a subject of fierce debate in the field of animal cognition. This book represents the long-awaited synthesis of the studies constituting one of the landmark experiments in modern comparative psychology.

About the Author

Irene Maxine Pepperberg is Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Associate Professor of Psychology, and Affiliate in the Program in Neuroscience at the University of Arizona. She is the winner of the 2000 Selby Fellowship from the Australian Academy of Sciences and was made a Fellow of the American Psychological Society.

Table of Contents

Preface

1. Introduction: In Search of King Solomon's Ring

2. Can We Really Communicate with a Bird?

3. Can a Parrot Learn Referential Use of English Speech?

4. Does a Parrot Have Categorical Concepts?

5. Can a Parrot Learn the Concept of Same/Different?

6. Can a Parrot Respond to the Absence of Information?

7. To What Extent Can a Parrot Understand and Use Numerical Concepts?

8. How Can We Be Sure That Alex Understands the Labels in His Repertoire?

9. Can a Parrot Understand Relative Concepts?

10. What Is the Extent of a Parrot's Concept of Object Permanence?

11. Can Any Part of a Parrot's Vocal Behavior Be Classified as "Intentional"?

12. Can a Parrot's Sound Play Assist Its Learning?

13. Can a Parrot's Sound Play Be Transformed into Meaningful Vocalizations?

14. What Input Is Needed to Teach a Parrot a Human-based Communication Code?

15. How Similar to Human Speech Is That Produced by a Parrot?

16. How Does a Grey Parrot Produce Human Speech Sounds?

17. Conclusion: What Are the Implications of Alex's Data?

Notes

References

Glossary

Credits

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780674008069
Author:
Pepperberg, Irene M.
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Author:
Pepperberg, Irene Maxine
Location:
Cambridge, Mass.
Subject:
General
Subject:
General science
Subject:
Birds & Birdwatching
Subject:
Zoology
Subject:
Experimental Psychology
Subject:
Behavior
Subject:
Animal communication
Subject:
Cognition in animals
Subject:
African gray parrot
Subject:
Life Sciences - Zoology - General
Subject:
Birds & Birdwatching - General
Subject:
African gray parrot -- Behavior.
Subject:
Birdwatching Guides
Subject:
Biology-Zoology
Subject:
PSYCHOLOGY / Cognitive Psychology
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
no. 96-0684
Publication Date:
20020430
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
9 halftones, 12 line cuts, 44 tables
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 20 oz

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The Alex Studies: Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Grey Parrots New Trade Paper
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Product details 448 pages Harvard University Press - English 9780674008069 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Twenty years ago Irene Pepperberg set out to discover whether large-brained, highly social parrots were capable of mastering complex cognitive concepts and the rudiments of referential speech. Her investigation and the bird at its center--a male Grey parrot named Alex--have since become almost as well known as their primate equivalents and no less a subject of fierce debate in the field of animal cognition. This book represents the long-awaited synthesis of the studies constituting one of the landmark experiments in modern comparative psychology.
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