Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 687–693 | Cite as

The perception of Glass patterns by starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)

  • Muhammad A. J. Qadri
  • Robert G. Cook
Brief Report


Glass patterns are structured dot stimuli used to investigate the visual perception of global form. Studies have demonstrated that humans and pigeons differ in their processing of circular versus linearly organized Glass patterns. To test whether this comparative difference is characteristic of birds as a phylogenetic class, we investigated for the first time how a passerine (starlings, Sturnus vulgaris) discriminated multiple Glass patterns from random-dot stimuli in a simultaneous discrimination. By examining acquisition, steady-state performance, and the effects of diminishing global coherence, it was found that the perception of Glass patterns by 5 starlings differed from human perception and corresponded to that established with pigeons. This suggests an important difference in how birds and primates are specialized in their processing of circular visual patterns, perhaps related to face perception, or in how these highly visual animals direct attention to the global and local components of spatially separated form stimuli.


Comparative cognition Visual perception Glass pattern Starling Sturnus vulgaris 

Supplementary material

13423_2014_709_MOESM1_ESM.doc (3.9 mb)
Supplementary Figure 1 Comprehensive sampling of displays used during training the starlings. The left labels indicate local group type, the top labels indicate global pattern, and the right labels indicate visual angle of the total pattern. (DOC 4028 kb)


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTufts UniversityMedfordUSA

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