Friday Grey Matters

Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Category archives for Friday Grey Matters

On December 30, the New York Times Magazine ran a feature about the most important obituaries of 2007. It was gratifying, yet still sad, to see that a joint obituatry for Alex the parrot and Washoe the chimp was included in the list. Alex and Washoe (“the Communicators,” as described by the NYT) were both…

Friday Grey Matters: The Mind of Alex

One of my favorite authors is Margaret Atwood, the Canadian sci-fi writer who has penned “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Robber Bride,” and “Oryx and Crake.” The first on that list is the book that initially hooked me, but I think “Oryx and Crake” holds a special place on my bookshelf for perhaps the silliest of…

Well, just heard that the necropsy of Alex was performed and that no discernible cause of death could be found. This is puzzling and sad, since it would have been better to have some sense of closure, but I suppose we may never know what killed Alex. I was also sent the official obituary of…

Repost: The Story of Alex

This is a repost from July of 2006. I thought it was appropriate, given Alex’s passing. Please check out Friday Grey Matters in my archives for many more reports on Dr. Pepperberg’s work with Alex. Alex is a 28-year-old African Grey parrot who lives in the lab of Irene Pepperberg, in Brandeis University, and is…

Sad! Alex the Grey Parrot, Dead at 31

On Friday, I received an email letting me know that the world’s most famous African Grey, Alex, had passed away. For those of you who have read this blog for some amount of time, you probably realize that I was a huge fan of Irene Pepperberg’s work with Alex and even dedicated a weekly series…

There’s a nifty little radio show broadcast out of Canada called ‘IAmAScientist‘ which focuses on [wait for it] the lives of scientists. The most recent show, cataloged via podcast courtesy of the friendly yet mysterious host, chats up Retrospectacle’s favorite birdly scientist, Dr. Irene Pepperberg herself. Check it out here. I also just noticed that…

Last week I came across an interesting press release on a strange phenomenon: vocal ‘naming’ of parrot chicks by their mothers. At the time of that posting I hadn’t come across the primary journal article, but a few commenters were kind enough to point me in the direction of this paper by Wanker et al,…

I have another post coming out later today for Friday Grey Matters, but I just had to put up a link to this amazing parrot-post at the Lounge of the Lab Lemming. In America, the nuts of the sweet gum tree are prickly, indestructible annoyances: It was a family joke that they were so indestructible…

German researchers at the University of Hamburg claim to have documented that some parrots seem to give their offspring (but not their mates) individual “names,” in the form of a distinctive call which is different for each of their chicks. The studies were inspired by observations in the spectacled parrotlet’s natural habitat in Colombia. There,…

Busy week this week, I submitted a paper day before yesterday which is the first time I did it myself. The online submission system is really convienent! Anyway, for Friday Grey Matters, check out this amazing video of Alex the grey parrot in action with Dr. Irene Pepperberg. Its the third video down, since I…