Shafaq News/ Harvard researchers compared how 21 human adults and 21 6- to 8-year-old children stacked up against an African grey parrot named Griffin in a complex version of the classic shell game.
The game tests the brain’s ability to retain a memory of items that are no longer in view and then updating when faced with new information, like a change in location. This cognitive system is known as visual working memory and is one of the foundations for intelligent behavior.
Griffin outperformed the 6- to 8-year-olds across all levels on average, and he performed either as well as or slightly better than the 21 Harvard undergraduates on 12 of the 14 of trial types.
The experiment was part of a study published in Scientific Reports in May. Pailian was the lead author and he collaborated with comparative psychologist Irene Pepperberg, Henry A. Morss Jr., and Elisabeth W. Morss Professor of Psychology Susan Carey, and Justin Halberda at John Hopkins University.
The researchers were investigating the limits of the brain’s ability to process and update mental representations. In other words, they were looking at the “working” portion of the visual working memory system. The ability is referred to as manipulation. And ultimately, they were hoping to gain insights into the development and origin of the visual working memory system and the nature of human intelligence.
It is noteworthy that Harvard University, which is ranked first in the world, located in the state of Massachusetts, and was founded in 1636.