In her new book Alex and Me researcher Irene Pepperberg explains how her work with the African gray parrot shed light on human intelligence, Scientific American reports. The author says Alex’s smarts demonstrate why scientists should examine how an animal’s brain works, not just how it looks, because the human cortex resembles a bird’s cortical-like matter in form and function.
Alex also shed light on our concept of zero, Pepperberg says. The sometimes-reluctant research subject not only mastered counting items but also the concept of none. In one test, he refused to give a correct reply until she changed the subject. “He figured out how to manipulate me into asking him the question he wanted to answer!” she says.