Most pet owners talk to their animals at one time or another, and some do every day. But how much do our pets actually understand? Is their perception anything like ours? These are the questions that fascinate Irene Pepperberg and she’s looking for answers from the animals themselves, specifically — African Grey Parrots. The Harvard University psychology professor is a bit like the character Dr. Doolittle because she’s been talking to parrots for decades. With help from the National Science Foundation, she’s researching how much the birds understand about shapes, numbers and colors. Her next phase of research involves how the parrots detect optical illusions, and whether they perceive them the way humans do. Her research will also reveal more about how a bird’s vision works.
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