Picture-object recognition in a comparative approach: performance of humans (Homo sapiens) and pigeons (Columba livia) in a rotational invariance and a complementary information task

Frohnwieser, Anna (2013) Picture-object recognition in a comparative approach: performance of humans (Homo sapiens) and pigeons (Columba livia) in a rotational invariance and a complementary information task. Masters thesis, University of Vienna.

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Frohnwieser 2013 Picture-object recognition
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Abstract

Pigeons and humans are two highly visual species that have evolved separately for
about 310 million years (Kumar and Hedges, 1998) and developed largely convergent visual
systems due to similar visual needs. To investigatepigeon vision and cognitive abilities twodimensional pictorial stimuli are often used. However, it is not entirely clear, how pigeons
perceive such stimuli and whether or not they can associate photographs with real objects.
In the present study nine pigeons and eleven humans were trained to discriminate
between photographs of two biologically irrelevant objects (“Greebles”). The pigeons were
housed in an aviary containing the real Greebles and were trained in wooden chambers where
they had to peck on a Plexiglas disk when positive stimuli were presented, thus obtaining
food. Humans were trained with the same stimuli presented on a computer screen and had to
click with a computer mouse on positive stimuli. Results showed that humans were much
faster at learning to discriminate the two Greebles. In the first test, pigeons and humans had to
discriminate new rotational views of the Greebles. Humans performed equally well on
interpolated test views (i.e. views that lay between the training views) and extrapolated views
(i.e. views outside of training range), while pigeons performed better on interpolated than on
extrapolated test views. Therefore, it can be concluded that object recognition was viewpointindependent for humans and viewpoint-dependent for pigeons. In the second test, following a
procedure by Aust and Huber (2006), pigeons were presented with parts of the Greebles that
were not included in training and the first test to see whether they formed associations
between the 2D images and the 3D objects in their aviary. They did not discriminate these
parts correctly. The test was repeated with three of the test views already used in the second
test but presented in different sizes. Discrimination seemed to depend on the visibility of the
appendages and might have been based on visual features of the pictures themselves without
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recognition of what they portrayed. The results of this study were compared to a previous
study in which pigeons were trained to discriminate either real Greebles, holograms, or
computer images of them. There, too, the real Greebles were installed in the pigeons’ aviary;
however, the pigeons trained and tested on computerimages lived in the adjacent aviary and
thus only had limited visual contact to them. We wanted to find out whether the more
extensive visual contact to the Greebles had any influence on the pigeons’ performance.
However, there was no difference in performance between the two groups. This is evidence
that the result of the previous study — better performance with real objects and holograms
than with computer images — was not based on the fact that pigeons trained with the latter
stimulus type had only limited visual access to thereal 3D objects.

Keywords:Pigeon, Picture-object recognition, Vision
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
C Biological Sciences > C300 Zoology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:14638
Deposited On:07 Aug 2014 14:12

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