Marcia Spetch: An Avian Perspective on Vision and Action: From Scene Analysis to Place

Pigeons, like humans, depend upon efficient perceptual and behavioural mechanisms in order to solve critical and recurrent problems in their daily lives. The research I will present investigates several basic processes underlying pigeons' ability to solve one such problem, namely "Where's my dinner?" Remembering and finding a goal may require the solution of numerous subproblems, including scene and object recognition, selection of spatial cues, encoding of metric information and spatial relationships, determination of heading, and navigation to the goal. Pigeons' use of spatial information is surprisingly general across tasks that vary dramatically in scale of space, nature of visual information, and type of response. Comparative studies suggest interesting similarities and differences between how pigeons and other species solve object recognition and place finding tasks.