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The Ability to Discriminate Paintings Found in Mice

Update:Jun. 07, 2013

Keio University Professor Emeritus Shigeru Watanabe has reported the ability to discriminate paintings in pigeons and Java Sparrows in the past, but his latest experiments have identified that this same ability exists in mice.
He began by examining if the mice stayed longer in front of paintings by Kandinsky or Mondrian. He found that most mice did not display any discrepancy in staying time (painting preference). They did not show a preference for paintings when shown Renoir vs. Picasso, either. However, when mice were injected with morphine while viewing one painting and injected with saline solution when viewing the other, the mice clearly began to stay for longer periods near the paintings associated with morphine injection. In the second experiment, mice were able to discriminate between pictures after training them to touch one of the pictures displayed on a touch screen in order to receive milk. Mice have been generally considered non-visual animals, but this research indicates that mice are capable of higher-order visual perception.
These research findings were published online in U.S. scientific journal PLOS ONE on June 7 (Japan Time).