Qualitative similarities in the visual short-term memory of pigeons and people.

Academic Article


  • Visual short-term memory plays a key role in guiding behavior, and individual differences in visual short-term memory capacity are strongly predictive of higher cognitive abilities. To provide a broader evolutionary context for understanding this memory system, we directly compared the behavior of pigeons and humans on a change detection task. Although pigeons had a lower storage capacity and a higher lapse rate than humans, both species stored multiple items in short-term memory and conformed to the same basic performance model. Thus, despite their very different evolutionary histories and neural architectures, pigeons and humans have functionally similar visual short-term memory systems, suggesting that the functional properties of visual short-term memory are subject to similar selective pressures across these distant species.
  • Authors

  • Gibson, Brett
  • Wasserman, Edward
  • Luck, Steven J
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • October 2011
  • Published In


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Columbidae
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychology, Comparative
  • Visual Perception
  • Young Adult
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 979
  • End Page

  • 984
  • Volume

  • 18
  • Issue

  • 5