Many children pass through a mirror stage in reading, where they write individual letters or digits in mirror and find it difficult to correctly utilize letters that are mirror images of one another (e.g., b and d). This phenomenon is thought to reflect the fact that the brain does not naturally discriminate left from right. Indeed, it has been argued that reading acquisition involves the inhibition of this default process. In the current study, we tested the ability of literate pigeons, which had learned to discriminate between 30 and 62 words from 7832 nonwords, to discriminate between words and their mirror counterparts. Subjects were sensitive to the left–right orientation of the individual letters, but not the order of letters within a word. This finding may reflect the fact that, in the absence of human-unique top-down processes, the inhibition of mirror generalization may be limited.
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