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we were training him to identify all these different objects he learned to identify
fifty objects and seven colors and five shapes in quantities up to about six over the
but the issue was we started with objects that he wanted to obtain
so it's very easy to teach him to label those things
so we had to teach him
the label want
so that he could ask us for what he wanted as his reward
separate identification from requests 0:00:36.380,0:00:38.380 but sometimes he still
just didn't want to
work and he started with
this little nuh
we do things like show him an object
give you a time out
so he learned to say I'm going to go away he walk
to the edge of the perch away from us
sometimes you get all the wrong answers so if the answer was one color
he would repeat the six wrong colors
I think it was more fun for him made it more interesting
I think at some point if he could have said I've already done that
he would have because
I would need sixty sometimes a hundred trials
the statistical significance
he would sip through the first dozen and even twenty trials it was fun it was a new
and it then it was like hello
we've done this we've done this already don't make me do it again
I boring
you described in your book which I must interject is a wonderful book what a wonderful read
in any event you you say that in your years at purdue
you and Alex are like vagabonds as I recall well we
we did not have our own lab space basically
they shifted us from whatever was convenient from one place to another
I I I think we had you know for at least three maybe four different laboratories depending
on who needed what space
you know it's just okay whatever in as long as you let me do the work
but it was really difficult because each time we moved the lab
it interrupted
the training and I would imagine that it was difficult for alex initially to
make those transitions am I wrong about that no it was you know this a different space
is it safe
and it took him a while to to get used to each space
the test for colors and shapes tell the audience a little bit what that was
all about
well the idea was could and animal understand
categories and categories in a hierarchical sense
the idea is not just that this is you know what's green what is not green
but that green and blue in yellow formed a
they could be lumped under the term color
and in other categories like two three four five six that could be lumped under shape
and paper wood and rawhide under material
so the idea was learning categorical
concept label
color shape matter
and then learning which colors went under that
so that I could show him an object that had color and shape and material and say alex what's
this block
what color green
what shape four corner
what matter wood 0:03:22.489,0:03:25.859 so he understood all those concepts and also meant
that I was getting away from rote responses
so that's when I showed him an object he never knew what to say
until he heard me ask the question
that is significant not simply stimulus responds
oh I see this thing every time I see this thing I say green he had to think
he had to wait for my question
another particular comment that alex sometimes would make was the use of I'm
I can't wait to ask you this did he feel remorse there was no contrition 0:04:14.539,0:04:17.509 it was what he learned to defuse
a tense situation
it's the same thing that you see ritualized in animals
where a dog will will present its jugular as if to say you know up
I I'm sorry you know kill me it's okay
of course that difuses an aggressive
and so alex learned to say I'm sorry
to do that and it it started because
he was sitting on a perch and I had some coffee and I wanted to go outside
for something
and I put the
coffee cup away from where I thought he could possibly get it
and I come back whatever it later and there he is on the floor with the coffee cup
in pieces all around him
and of course the first response like any mother type person you say AHH!
you know what happened how did you do that
then you stop and go this is a bird
your you're ranting it's not his fault this was an interesting thing he went to
explore it
he knocked it off the shelf then you are worried that he's hurt
so you pick him up and say I am sorry
and he put the two together and she's yelling at me and she says I'm sorry
if I say this she'll stop yelling at me
what a great story
if Texas law
the patient
it's the progress
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Animal Human Communications: Alex The Parrot

789 Folder Collection
TeacherJennifer Bryne published on March 6, 2015
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