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J Comp Psychol. 2005 May;119(2):197-209.

Number comprehension by a grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus), including a zero-like concept.

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Department of Psychology, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454, USA.


A Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus) that was able to quantify 6 item sets (including subsets of heterogeneous groups, e.g., blue blocks within groupings of blue and green blocks and balls) using English labels (I. M. Pepperberg, 1994a) was tested on comprehension of these labels, which is crucial for numerical competence (K. C. Fuson, 1988; see also record 1987-98811-000). He was, without training, asked "What color/object [number]?" for collections of various simultaneously presented quantities (e.g., subsets of 4, 5, and 6 blocks of 3 different colors; subsets of 2, 4, and 6 keys, corks, and sticks). Accuracy was greater than 80% and was unaffected by array quantity, mass, or contour. His results demonstrated numerical comprehension competence comparable to that of chimpanzees and very young children. He also demonstrated knowledge of absence of quantity, using "none" to designate zero.

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