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A bird's eye view of art
Date:6/30/2009

ings. When the paintings' sizes were reduced, the birds discriminated just as well between the two types of paintings. However, when they were presented with grayscale paintings, they were no longer able to distinguish between the paintings, indicating that they use color cues for discrimination. When the paintings were processed into mosaics, the pigeons also found it difficult to distinguish between the paintings, showing that they also use pattern cues to make their beauty judgments. Hiding part of the picture did not affect the pigeons' ability to tell the difference between paintings.

In the second series of experiments, Professor Watanabe looked at whether pigeons could discriminate between watercolor and pastel paintings. Eight new pigeons were trained to recognize the texture of paintings four were trained to peck at watercolor paintings and four were trained to peck at pastel paintings. As in the previous experiment, when presented with a mixture of new and old paintings, pigeons used both color and shape cues to accurately discriminate between textures.

Taken together, these experiments suggest that humans and pigeons use similar visual cues to identify 'good' paintings and painting texture. Although there is a considerable difference in humans' and pigeons' brain architectures, they can function in similar ways to make complex visual discriminations.

Professor Watanabe concludes: "Artistic endeavors have been long thought to be limited to humans, but this experiment shows that, with training, pigeons are capable of distinguishing between 'good' and 'bad' paintings. This research does not deal with advanced artistic judgments, but it shows that pigeons are able to acquire the ability to judge beauty similar to that of humans."


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Contact: Ana Granadillo Markl
Ana.GranadilloMarkl@springer.com
49-622-148-78414
Springer
Source:Eurekalert

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