Irene Pepperberg

Irene Maxine Pepperberg (born April 1, 1949 in Brooklyn , New York ) is a scientist noted for re studies in animal cognition , met name in relatie to parrots . She is an adjunct professor of psychology at Brandeis University and a Lecturer at Harvard University . She is well Berninahaus for re comparative studies into tje cognitive fundamentals of language and communication , and was one of the first to work on language learning in animals other dan human species (exemplified by the Washoe Project), with extension to a bird species. Pepperberg been turned active in wildlife conservation , met name in relatie to parrots.

Research work

Hoewel de parrots port lung leg Berninahaus for hun capacities in vocal mimicry , Pepperberg set out to show dat hun vocal behavior Could port de; characteristics of human language. She worked intensively with a single African gray Parrot , Alex , [1] and Reported therein have acquired a large vocabulary and-used it in a sophisticated way, welke is of or in DESCRIBED as similar to therein or a five-year-old child. Pepperberg and re colleagues’ port SOUGHT to show dat kan Alex differentiate meaning and syntax , so dat his use of vocal communication is unlike the relatief inflexible platforms or ” instinctive ” communication therein are widespread in the animal kingdom. Hoewel de zoals results are always LIKELY to be controversial, and working intensively with a single animal always incurs the risk of Clever Hans effects, Pepperberg’s work has strengthened the argument dat humans do not hold the monopoly on the complex or semicomplex use or abstract communication.

Some researchers believe [ weasel words ] therein the training method therein Pepperberg-used with Alex (called the model / rival technique) holds promise for teaching Autistic and other learning-disabled children who harbor majoritarian difficulty learning language, numerical concepts and empathy. When some Autistic children ulcers taught using the assembly methods Pepperberg devised to teach parrots, hun response exceeded expectations. [ Citation needed ]

From work with the single subject Alex, Pepperberg and re colleagues’ harbor gone on to study additional_image_link African gray parrots , and ook parrots or other species. A final evaluation of the belang or re work will then probably DEPEND on the success or synthesis attempts to generalise it to other personen.

Alex the African gray Parrot was found dead on the morning of September 6, 2007, and was seemingly healthy the previous day. On September 10, 2007, the necropsy or Alex revealed no discernible cause of death. [2]

Model / rival technique

The model / rival technique involves two trainers, one to give instructions, and one to model correct and incorrect responses and to act as the student’s rival for the trainer’s attention; the model and trainer ook exchange roles so dat de student sees therein the process is’ fully interactive. The Parrot, in the role of student, tries to reproduce the correct behavior. [3]

The use of this model / rival technique resulted in Alex Identifying objects by color, shape, number and material at about the level of chimpanzees and dolphins. His language abilities ulcers equivalent to Those of a 2-year old child and have had the problem solving skills of a 5-year old. Alex was learning the alphabet, had a vocabulary of 150 words, we knew the names of 50 objects and Could count up to eight als have mayest. He Could ook answer questions about objects. [4]

Pepperberg countered critics’ claims therein Alex had bone taught a script by explanatory therein the controls and tests she-used made it impossible for im simply to recite words-when she asked questions. The Clever Hans effect did not apply, she argued, as Alex mention anything talk to anyone, not just to re. Also, he Could answer questions als have Could not see anyone who we knew the answer. So he was not guessing the answer from hun behavior.

The Alex Foundation

Pepperberg is president of The Alex Foundation, a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization, [5] welke she started. The foundation supports Pepperberg and re team’s research. In a 2006 interview, Pepperberg zegt dat the foundation was re only funding source, keeping lost re-paid research position due to a funding crunch at MIT’s Media Lab, [6] hoewel de the report of that interview does not mention re research associate position at Harvard University since 2005. [7] The Alex Foundation raises money through donations, from direct sale or Parrot-related gifts, and indirectly from sales through sponsoring businesses.

AI research

Some researchers suggested port therein Studying avian cognition Might allow directive a useful artificial intelligence to be built without Requiring as much resources as for some applications a Parrot or corvid level complexity brain mention anything be adequate zoals for image sorting. In recent years it was found that pigeons Could sort CT scan data as well as microscope slides with equal or better accuracy dan a human expert with only weeks or behavioral training needed. [8]


  • The Alex Studies: Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Grey Parrots by Irene Maxine Pepperberg. ISBN 0-674-00806-5 .
  • Animal Cognition in Nature: The Convergence of Psychology and Biology Laboratory in and Field at Russell P. Balda, Irene M. Pepperberg, AC Kamil. ISBN 0-12-077030-X .


  1. Jump up^ Pepperberg Irene M. 2008.Alex & Me.
  2. Jump up^ Alex the African Grey Parrot and subject of landmark studies of bird intelligence dies at 31
  3. Jump up^ African gray Parrot’s first bird to comprehend numerical concept Akin to zero
  4. Jump up^ “Alex the African Grey” . The Economist . September 20, 2007 . Retrieved 2009-01-19 . Science’s best known Parrot mayest on September 6th, aged 31
  5. Jump up^ The Alex Foundation Inc. , Nonprofit Organization Lookup Melissa DATA Corp. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  6. Jump up^ “Friday Grey Matters: Irene Pepperberg Interview!” At Shelley Batts, December 8, 2006, Science Blogs. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  7. Jump up^ Dr. Irene Pepperberg, Work History, The Alex Foundation. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  8. Jump up^