This research analyzes a child’s incredible abilities grey parrot who managed to beat Harvard students in a memory game with coloured balls.
We have often dealt, in previous articles, with the incredible mental abilities that some birds possess and that never cease to amaze us. This time it won’t be any less: the volatile protagonist of this memory challenge is a Gray Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) named Griffin. This cute feathered one has well 22 years old but his species, in addition to living up to 50 years, is also capable of memorizing many different words. Griffin, in particular, managed to learn and reproduce 30 words as well as to recognize the meaning of another 40 and even the colours. It must be said that our grey friend is not new to memory games, in fact, he has been trained, since he was just over 7 weeks old, to play memory games.
Years of training have paid off, so much so that our champion has managed to beat 21 young Harvard students in a simple game with coloured balls. To challenge Griffin there were, in addition to adults, 21 children aged between 6 and 8 years. The game that saw the contest between humans and the parrot was quite simple and was based on various coloured balls hidden inside some plastic cups. A coloured ball was clearly visible and the challengers had to find the corresponding colour inside the glasses. The difficulty of the challenge, which lasted a whole day, increased and, at the end of the day, the number of coloured balls, hidden under the glasses, rose to 4 and the glasses from which they were covered were then moved. The difficulty was in remembering which glass the matching colour ball was under and, if at the beginning of the day, with only two balls not being moved, it could be simple, at the end of the day the challenge became more complex.
The test and results were published in the journal Scientific Reports and the winner, without a shadow of a doubt, was Griffin. The parrot, in fact, won or equalled 12 out of 14 different tests and, only towards the end of the day, when the tests were very difficult, our feathered friend started to lose ground compared to human competitors, both children and adults. To win the test the participants not only had to remember the position of the coloured balls when they were covered, but they had to manipulate this information and adapt it when the plastic cups were moved. This kind of manipulation of information experts continue, it must have probably evolved from a common ancestor.