Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Pigeons can spot cancer as well as the experts

P1010642Studies show that pigeons are smarter than we think.

For example researchers at the University of Iowa have found that pigeons are just as good at spotting cancer cells in medical imaging as human pathologists.

Four pigeons looking at selected images of healthy and cancerous breast tissue were able to be trained over a few days – by being rewarded with food when they pressed a button – to spot the differences and then apply that skill to new images. They correctly identified the cancerous slides with 85% accuracy, the same as humans. They were also as good as humans at recognising cancer-related calcifications in mammograms.

The researchers suggested that pigeons have an affinity for histopathology.

Pigeons have also been used to identify misshapen drug capsules and Monet paintings. Is there no end to their skill set?

I’ve posted about pigeons on and off over the years. Just wish they’d learn to clean up after themselves.

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