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Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Bird brains? These pigeons can outperform humans in reading mammograms

Bird brains? These pigeons can outperform humans in reading mammograms

After sharing a lab with them for 40 years, University of Iowa psychology professor Edward Wasserman knew pigeons were smart. Previous studies proved they can distinguish between different human facial expressions, letters of the alphabet, and even Monet and Picasso paintings. For the military, they spot life rafts and enemy ships.

But the pigeons' latest feat surprised even Wasserman. Given X-rays of human breasts (mammograms), the birds could tell benign from malignant tumors, with an 85 percent accuracy rate. This rivals humans' 84 percent rate, according to the Susan G. Komen organization.

"It takes years of training for people to learn this," said Wasserman, who...

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