Referential learning of French and Czech labels in African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus): different methods yield contrasting results

Giret, Nicolas and Péron, Franck and Lindová, Jitka and Tichotová, Lenka and Nagle, Laurent and Kreutzer, Michel and Tymr, František and Bovet, Dalila (2010) Referential learning of French and Czech labels in African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus): different methods yield contrasting results. Behavioural Processes, 85 (2). pp. 90-98. ISSN 0376-6357

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2010.06.010

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

.Some African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus), the most famous being Pepperberg's parrot Alex, are able to imitate human speech and produce labels referentially. In this study, the aim was to teach ten African grey parrots from two laboratories to label items. Training three parrots from the first laboratory for several months with the Model/Rival method, developed by Pepperberg, in which two humans interact in front of the subject to demonstrate the use of a label, led to disappointing results. Similarly, seven parrots from the second laboratory, having been trained with several variants of Model/Rival attained little success. After the informal observation of the efficiency of other methods (i.e. learning to imitate labels either spontaneously or with specific learning methods and use of these labels referentially), four different teaching methods were tested with two birds: the Model/Rival; Repetition/Association which consisted of repeating a label and presenting the item only when the parrot produced the label; Intuitive in which the experimenter handled an item and repeated its name in front of the subject; Diffusion in which labels with either variable or flat intonation were played back daily to parrots. One bird learned three labels, one of which was used referentially, with the Repetition/Association method. He learned one label non-referentially with the Model/Rival but no labels were acquired using the other methods. The second bird did not learn any labels. This study demonstrates that different methods can be efficient to teach labels referentially and it suggests that rearing conditions and interindividual variability are important features when assessing learning ability of African grey parrots.

Keywords:Parrots, African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus), Referential learning, Model/Rival, Intuitive, Repetition/Association, Diffusion, Allospecific vocal learning
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:9437
Deposited On:14 May 2013 08:12

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