Pigeons (Columba livia) plan future moves on computerized maze tasks

Hiromitsu Miyata*, Kazuo Fujita

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Planning, the internal process of formulating an organized method about one's future behavior, should be advantageous for non-human animals as well as for humans. However, little is known about this process in avian species. We examined planning processes in pigeons (Columba livia) using a computerized maze task. In Experiment 1, we found that the pigeons plan their next one step, and in some cases even correctly adjust their actions after change of goal locations, while performing on a plus-shaped maze. We also showed that the pigeons might even plan two steps on familiar, well-practiced mazes. In Experiment 2, we discovered that the subjects plan the direction they would go first before starting to solve a four-arm shuriken (a Japanese traditional throwing knife)-shaped maze. The birds also corrected their previously planned actions after change of goal locations. Our results from these experiments suggest that planning ahead is within the cognitive capacity of a "bird brain", and that it may be more widespread in the animal kingdom than has been presumed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-516
Number of pages12
JournalAnimal Cognition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jul
Externally publishedYes


  • LCD monitor
  • Maze
  • Navigation
  • Pigeon
  • Planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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