Pigeons Multitask Faster Than Humans

Scientists recently conducted a study on the pigeon’s ability to multitask. Turns out, they’re actually quite good at it – even better than humans in certain situations.

These findings are a result of various behavioural experiments conducted on both humans and birds. According to the scientists who conducted the study, the reasons behind this advantage is a pigeon’s higher neuronal density.

The neurons in a pigeon’s cerebral cortex are more densely packed than in a human brain. This means that the average distance between two neurons in a pigeon are around 50 per cent shorter than in a human brain. This means information is processed much quicker.

To test the theory the team used a multitasking exercise. It was performed by 15 humans and 12 pigeons. In the experiment, both the human and the avian participants had to stop a task in progress and switch over to an alternative task as quickly as possible.

The pigeons switched from the one task to the next faster than the humans, but only by 250 milliseconds. But that’s not they only cool thing about pigeons. There’s so much more to them than that. 

“Researchers in the field of cognitive neuroscience have been wondering for a long time how it was possible that some birds, such as crows or parrots, are smart enough to rival chimpanzees in terms of cognitive abilities, despite their small brains and their lack of a cortex,” the report stated.

The results of the current study provide a partial answer to this mystery: it is precisely because of their small brain that is densely packed with nerve cells that birds are able to reduce the processing time in tasks that require rapid interaction between different groups of neurons.

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