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Re: Living theropods reveal mental fireworks in PET scans

On Thu, Jul 04, 2013 at 12:08:56PM -0700, Ben Creisler wrote:
> From: Ben Creisler
> bcreisler@gmail.com
> A number of recent papers and news items are out about the cognitive
> abilities of living theropods, otherwise known as  birds.
> Virginia Morell (2013)
> Into the Minds of Birds.
> Science 341 (6141): 22-25
> DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6141.22
> http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6141/22.summary
> A new brain scanning method may spur the already-booming field of bird
> cognition, and help illuminate a long-term debate over animal
> capabilities. PET scans of live birds offer a glimpse of their brains
> in the act of working, and may offer clues to when—or if—a bird is
> "thinking."
> Podcase interview:
> http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6141/22/suppl/DC1
> ===
> Lock-picking cockatoos:
> Auersperg AMI, Kacelnik A, von Bayern AMP (2013)
> Explorative Learning and Functional Inferences on a Five-Step
> Means-Means-End Problem in Goffin’s Cockatoos (Cacatua goffini).
> PLoS ONE 8(7): e68979.
> doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068979
> http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0068979
> To investigate cognitive operations underlying sequential problem
> solving, we confronted ten Goffin’s cockatoos with a baited box locked
> by five different inter-locking devices. Subjects were either naïve or
> had watched a conspecific demonstration, and either faced all devices
> at once or incrementally. One naïve subject solved the problem without
> demonstration and with all locks present within the first five
> sessions (each consisting of one trial of up to 20 minutes), while
> five others did so after social demonstrations or incremental
> experience. Performance was aided by species-specific traits including
> neophilia, a haptic modality and persistence. Most birds showed a
> ratchet-like progress, rarely failing to solve a stage once they had
> done it once. In most transfer tests subjects reacted flexibly and
> sensitively to alterations of the locks’ sequencing and functionality,
> as expected from the presence of predictive inferences about
> mechanical interactions between the locks.

I think we can conclude that birds are smart.