06 September, 2006

Pigeons may not know art, but they know what they like.

A study by Watanabe, Sakamoto and Wakita (1995) found that pigeons could be reliably trained to differentiate paintings by Monet from those by Picasso (even paintings they had never seen before). Some interesting facts about this:

  1. If the paintings were turned upside-down, pigeons were not as good at identifying Monets - but inversion did not cause problems in the identification of Picassos (duh).

  2. College students were trained at a similar task (but with Van Gogh and Chagall paintings), using the same training methods, were about as good as the pigeons.