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Categorical perception of colour in songbirds

A long-standing debate in psychology has been whether language is necessary for the categorical perception of colour. In other words, are specific colour labels necessary for humans to visually perceive colour differences? While research with adult participants have shown that labels impact the visual perception of colour by segmenting perceptual boundaries (e.g., Thierry et al., 2009), research with infants show that language may not be necessary to visually perceive these colour categories (e.g., Franklin & Davies, 2004 ).

A new study published in Nature now shows that a type of songbird known as the Zebra finch exhibits categorical perception of colour. This is the first time this effect has been shown in another animal besides primates and gives substantiating evidence for categorical perception without the need for language.

For further details on the study, read the coverage here, or the original article here.