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Pigeon Critics?

 

Updated : Jul 4, 2009

Racing pigeons can be trained to study paintings and evaluate them like a critic, according to scientists.



A study in Japan offered pigeons food as an incentive to study the colour, pattern and texture of paintings, reports the Daily Mail.

First, four pigeons were placed in a chamber with a computer monitor displaying watercolour and pastel paintings by schoolchildren.

The paintings were divided into 'good' and 'bad' categories by 11 adults, including an art teacher, depending on whether the images were clear and precise.

The pigeons were shown some of the paintings from each category and rewarded with food when they pecked at the good pictures, but not the bad ones.

They were then presented with a mixture of new and old paintings from both categories and the researchers noted the birds consistently pecked at the 'good' paintings more often.

However, when they were presented with monochrome paintings, they were no longer able to distinguish between the paintings, indicating that they use colour to discriminate.

The second experiment looked at eight new pigeons, which were trained to recognise the paintings' texture - four were trained to peck at watercolours and four at pastels.

Professor Shigeru Watanabe, of Keio University, said: "This research does not deal with advanced artistic judgments, but it shows pigeons are able to acquire the ability to judge beauty similar to that of humans."

 

 

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