Our Research

My research is focused on comparative animal cognition. In particular, I am interested in the mechanisms of perception, discrimination learning, and cognition in pigeons, starlings and humans. We have recently been looking at these questions using both visual and auditory stimuli. The goal of my research is to understand how birds perceive and process information in their environment and use this information to learn about and predict relations among real world objects and events. This is done by investigating the psychological mechanisms involved with different types of discrimination behavior in two contrasting orders of birds and their comparison to humans. Birds are ideal for comparative cognitive studies because the demands to minimize body weight for flight have caused them to evolve small, compact, powerful, non-mammalian central nervous systems capable of learning very complex discriminations. As a result, their investigation should significantly advance our understanding of object recognition systems generally. Further, our research contributes to the development of treatments or corrective solutions for humans suffering from a wide variety of visual disorders or deficits.

Current Projects and Interests

  • Action Categorization
  • Motion Perception
  • Object Perception
  • Visual and Auditory Same-Different Concept Learning
  • Change Detection
  • Categorization
  • Equivalence Class Formation
  • Picture Perception
  • Music Perception
  • Neural mechanisms underlying these behaviors

Comparative Cognition Lab

Tufts University