Animal Minds Parrot Alex ielts reading academic

Animal minds Parrot Alex IELTS Reading Academic

Animal minds Parrot Alex IELTS Reading Academic

Real IELTS Exam Question, Reported On:

India 11th June 2022

READING PASSAGE 1
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13 which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.

Animal minds: Parrot Alex

A
In 1977 Irene Pepperberg, a recent graduate of Harvard University did something very bold. At a time when animals still were considered automatons, she set out to find what was on another creature’s mind by talking to it. She brought a one-year-old African gray parrot she named Alex into her lab to teach him to reproduce the sounds of the English language. “I thought if he learned to communicate, I could ask him questions about how he sees the world.”

B
When Pepperberg began her dialogue with Alex, who died last September at the age of 31, many scientists believed animals were incapable of any thought. They were simply machines, robots programmed to react to stimuli but lacking the ability to think or feel. Any pet owner would disagree. We see the love in our dogs’ eyes and know that, of course, they have thoughts and emotions. But such claims remain highly controversial. Gut instinct is not science, and it is all too easy to project human thoughts and feelings onto another creature. How, then, does a scientist prove that an animal is capable of thinking – that it is able to acquire information about the world and act on it? “That’s why I started my studies with Alex,” Pepperberg said. They were seated – she at her desk, he on top of his cage – in her lab, a windowless room about the size of a boxcar, at Brandeis University. Newspapers lined the floor; baskets of bright toys were stacked on the shelves. They were clearly a team – and because of their work, the notion that animals can think is no longer so fanciful.

C
Certain skills are considered key signs of higher mental abilities: good memory, a grasp of grammar and symbols, self-awareness, understanding others’ motives, imitating others, and being creative. Bit by bit, in ingenious experiments, researchers have documented these talents in other species, gradually chipping away at what we thought made human beings distinctive while offering a glimpse of where our own abilities came from. Scrub jays know that other jays are thieves and that stashed food can spoil; sheep can recognize faces; chimpanzees use a variety of tools to probe termite mounds and even use weapons to hunt small mammals; dolphins can imitate human postures; the archerfish, which stuns insects with a sudden blast of water, can learn how to aim its squirt simply by watching an experienced fish perform the task. And Alex the parrot turned out to be a surprisingly good talker. [IELTSXpress]

D
Thirty years after the Alex studies began; Pepperberg and a changing collection of assistants were still giving him English lessons. The humans, along with two younger parrots, also served as Alex’s flock, providing the social input all parrots crave. Like any flock, this one – as small as it was – had its share of drama. Alex dominated his fellow parrots, acted huffy at times around Pepperberg, tolerated the other female humans, and fell to pieces over a male assistant who dropped by for a visit. Pepperberg bought Alex in a Chicago pet store where she let the store’s assistant pick him out because she didn’t want other scientists saying later that she’d particularly chosen an especially smart bird for her work. Given that Alex’s brain was the size of a shelled walnut, most researchers thought Pepperberg’s interspecies communication study would be futile.

E
“Some people actually called me crazy for trying this,” she said. “Scientists thought that chimpanzees were better subjects, although, of course, chimps can’t speak.” Chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas have been taught to use sign language and symbols to communicate with us, often with impressive results. The bonobo Kanzi, for instance, carries his symbol-communication board with him so he can “talk” to his human researchers, and he has invented combinations of symbols to express his thoughts. Nevertheless, this is not the same thing as having an animal look up at you, open his mouth, and speak. Under Pepperberg’s patient tutelage, Alex learned how to use his vocal tract to imitate almost one hundred English words, including the sounds for various foods, although he calls an apple a “banerry.” “Apples taste a little bit like bananas to him, and they look a little bit like cherries, so Alex made up that word for them,” Pepperberg said.

F
It sounded a bit mad, the idea of a bird having lessons to practice, and willingly doing it. But after listening to and observing Alex, it was difficult to argue with Pepperberg’s explanation for his behaviors. She wasn’t handing him treats for the repetitious work or rapping him on the claws to make him say the sounds. “He has to hear the words over and over before he can correctly imitate them,” Pepperberg said, after pronouncing “seven” for Alex a good dozen times in a row. “I’m not trying to see if Alex can learn a human language,” she added. “That’s never been the point. My plan always was to use his imitative skills to get a better understanding of avian cognition.”

G
In other words, because Alex was able to produce a close approximation of the sounds of some English words, Pepperberg could ask him questions about a bird’s basic understanding of the world. She couldn’t ask him what he was thinking about, but she could ask him about his knowledge of numbers, shapes, and colors. To demonstrate, Pepperberg carried Alex on her arm to a tall wooden perch in the middle of the room. She then retrieved a green key and a small green cup from a basket on a shelf. She held up the two items to Alex’s eye. “What’s same?” she asked. Without hesitation, Alex’s beak opened: “Co-lor.” “What’s different?” Pepperberg asked. “Shape,” Alex said. His voice had the digitized sound of a cartoon character.

Since parrots lack lips (another reason it was difficult for Alex to pronounce some sounds, such as ba), the words seemed to come from the air around him, as if a ventriloquist were speaking. But the words – and what can only be called the thoughts – were entirely his.

H
For the next 20 minutes, Alex can through his tests, distinguishing colors, shapes, sizes, and materials (wool versus wood versus metal). He did some simple arithmetic, such as accounting the yellow toy blocks among a pile of mixed hues. And, then, as if to offer final proof of the mind inside his bird’s brain, Alex spoke up. “Talk clearly!” he commanded, when one of the younger birds Pepperberg was also teaching talked with wrong pronunciation. “Talk clearly!” “Don’t be a smart aleck,” Pepperberg said, shaking her head at him. “He knows all this, and he gets bored, so he interrupts the others, or he gives the wrong answer just to be obstinate. At this stage, he’s like a teenager; he’s moody, and I’m never sure what he’ll do.”

Questions 1-6
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?
In boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE if the statement is true
FALSE if the statement is false
NOT GIVEN if the information is not given in the passage

1. Firstly, Alex has grasped quite a lot of vocabulary. ieltsxpress
2. At the beginning of the study, Alex felt frightened in the presence of humans.
3. Previously, many scientists realized that the animal possesses the ability of thinking.
4. It has taken a long time before people get to know cognition existing in animals.
5. As Alex could approximately imitate the sounds of English words, he was capable of roughly answering Irene’s questions regarding the world.
6. By breaking in other parrots as well as producing the incorrect answers, he tried to be focused.

Questions 7-10
Complete the following summary of the paragraphs of Reading Passage.
Using NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the Reading Passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 7-10 on your answer sheet.

After the training of Irene, Parrot Alex can use his vocal tract to pronounce more than 7_________, while other scientists believe that animals have no this advanced ability of thinking, they would rather teach 8_________, Pepperberg clarified that she wanted to conduct a study concerning 9_________, but not to teach him to talk. The store’s assistant picked out a bird at random for her for the sake of avoiding other scientists saying that the bird is 10_________, afterwards.

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Questions 11-13
Answer the questions 11-13 below.
Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage for each answer.

11. What did Alex reply regarding the similarity of the subjects showed to him?
12. What is the problem of the young parrots except for Alex?
13. To some extent, through the way, he behaved what we can call him?


Animal minds Parrot Alex IELTS Reading Answers

1. NOT GIVEN

2. NOT GIVEN

3. FALSE

4. TRUE

5. TRUE

6. FALSE

7. 100 English words

8. chimpanzees

9. avian cognition

10. particularly chosen

11. color

12. wrong pronunciation

13. teenager

Also Check: Health In The Wild IELTS Reading Academic


Animal minds Parrot Alex IELTS Reading Answers Explanation

1. Firstly, Alex has grasped quite a lot of vocabulary.

Answer: NOT GIVEN

Explanation: It is nowhere to be found if Alex, the parrot, had grasped quite a lot of vocabulary. He had learned to imitate almost a hundred words, which does not prove if that number is qualified to be classified as “quite a lot”. However, by staying on the same track as with the facts of the passage, it is to be noted that he had grasped more vocabulary than the other two parrots.

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2. At the beginning of the study, Alex felt frightened in the presence of humans.
Answer: NOT GIVEN
Explanation:
Pepperberg and Alex are referred to as “clearly a team” which puts in more weightage towards him not being frightened in the presence of humans. He also seemed to tolerate other female humans and possibly could not control his emotions at the sight of a male assistant. Thereby, it is not explicitly mentioned if Alex was frightened by humans or otherwise. Therefore, the answer is Not Given.


3. Previously, many scientists realized that the animal possesses the ability of thinking.

Answer: FALSE

Supporting Sentence: At a time when animals still were considered automatons, she set out to find what was on another creature’s mind by talking to it.
When Pepperberg began her dialogue with Alex, who died last September at the age of 31, many scientists believed animals were incapable of any thought. They were simply machines, robots programmed to react to stimuli but lacking the ability to think or feel.
Keyword:
scientists, animal, incapable, thought, lacking, automatons ieltsxpress.com
Keyword Location:
Paragraph A, 2nd line; Paragraph B, 1st and 2nd line.
Explanation:
Before Pepperberg finished her study on Alex about how he viewed the world, scientists believed that animals did not possess the ability to think or feel. One of the reasons for this presumably was the lack of research, considering the era when this belief was relied upon.


4. It has taken a long time before people get to know cognition existing in animals.

Answer: TRUE

Supporting Sentence: In 1977 Irene Pepperberg, a recent graduate of Harvard University did something very bold. At a time when animals still were considered automatons, she set out to find what was on another creature’s mind by talking to it.
Thirty years after the Alex studies began; Pepperberg and a changing collection of assistants were still giving him English lessons. My plan always was to use his imitative skills to get a better understanding of avian cognition.
Keyword:
1977, automatons, Thirty, years, cognition
Keyword Location:
Paragraph A, 1st and 2nd line; Paragraph D, 1st line; Paragraph F, 7th line.
Explanation:
It is indicated that at least until 1977, animals were considered to lack the ability to think or feel. It is also to be noted that Pepperberg and the assistants continued giving him English lessons even after thirty years since the study began. This proves that it took a long time for people to recognize the presence of cognition in animals.


5. As Alex could approximately imitate the sounds of English words, he was capable of roughly answering Irene’s questions regarding the world. ieltxpress.com

Answer: TRUE

Supporting Sentence: In other words, because Alex was able to produce a close approximation of the sounds of some English words, Pepperberg could ask him questions about a bird’s basic understanding of the world.
Keyword: approximation, sounds, English, world
Keyword Location: Paragraph G, 1st line.
Explanation: Pepperberg could successfully question Alex about numbers, shapes, and colors to figure out what he was thinking regarding the environment around him. This was helpful as he was able to pronounce a few of the English words.


6. By breaking in other parrots as well as producing the incorrect answers, he tried to be focused.

Answer: FALSE

Supporting Sentence: “He knows all this, and he gets bored, so he interrupts the others, or he gives the wrong answer just to be obstinate. At this stage, he’s like a teenager; he’s moody, and I’m never sure what he’ll do.”
Keywords: interrupts, obstinate, moody, bored
Keyword Location: Paragraph H, 6th and 7th line
Explanation: As mentioned, Alex once commanded the younger birds that Pepperberg was teaching with “Talk clearly!” He interrupted the more immature birds out of boredom and not to increase his focus. Pepperberg referred to him as being similar to a teenager considering him moody and never being sure of what he would do next. IELTXpress.com


Question 7

Answer: 100 English words

Supporting Sentence: Under Pepperberg’s patient tutelage, Alex learned how to use his vocal tract to imitate almost one hundred English words, including the sounds for various foods, although he calls an apple a “beanery.”
Keyword: one hundred, english, words, vocal tract
Keyword Location: Paragraph E, 6th line
Explanation: As notified, Pepperberg successfully trained Alex to an extent where he could almost mimic almost one hundred words. Therefore, the selected answer – 100 English words is a correct answer.


Question 8

Answer: chimpanzees

Supporting Sentence: “Scientists thought that chimpanzees were better subjects, although, of course, chimps can’t speak.” Chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas have been taught to use sign language and symbols to communicate with us, often with impressive results. The bonobo Kanzi, for instance, carries his symbol-communication board with him so he can “talk” to his human researchers, and he has invented combinations of symbols to express his thoughts.
Keyword: chimpanzees, subjects, communicate
Keyword Location: Paragraph E, 2nd and 3rd line. ieltsxpress
Explanation: Scientists assumed that chimpanzees were in a better position to give them the expected results as they could be taught to use sign language to communicate. However, the downside is that chimpanzees aren’t capable of speaking.


Question 9

Answer: avian cognition

Supporting Sentence: “I’m not trying to see if Alex can learn a human language,” she added. “That’s never been the point. My plan always was to use his imitative skills to get a better understanding of avian cognition.”
Keyword: human language, avian cognition
Keyword Location: Paragraph F, 5th and 6th line.
Explanation: Pepperberg’s aim was never to teach Alex the English language; she instead wanted to gather information on how and what the birds perceive the world to be like.


Question 10

Answer: particularly chosen

Supporting Sentence: Pepperberg bought Alex in a Chicago pet store where she let the store’s assistant pick him out because she didn’t want other scientists saying later that she’d particularly chosen an especially smart bird for her work.
Keyword: assistant, pick, scientists, particularly chosen, smart bird
Keyword Location: Paragraph D, 5th line ieltsxpress


Explanation: Pepperberg, when buying Alex from a Chicago pet store, let the store’s assistant choose any one of the parrots from presumably a group of pandemonium. This was done to negate any chance of other scientists criticizing her for particularly choosing an intelligent bird. ieltsx press

11 What did Alex reply regarding the similarity of the subjects showed to him?

Answer: color

Supporting Sentence: She then retrieved a green key and a small green cup from a basket on a shelf. She held up the two items to Alex’s eye. “What’s same?” she asked. Without hesitation, Alex’s beak opened: “Co-lor.” “What’s different?” Pepperberg asked. “Shape,” Alex said.
Keyword: color
Keyword Location: Paragraph G, 7th line
Explanation: As mentioned, Alex could differentiate between colors, numbers, and shapes. Although he was incapable of expressing what he was thinking about, Alex could still use the above-stated factors to substantiate how he viewed the world. He successfully differentiated between the shapes of the subjects shown to him and identified the similarity in the colors.


12 What is the problem of the young parrots except for Alex?

Answer: wrong pronunciation

Supporting Sentence: And, then, as if to offer final proof of the mind inside his bird’s brain, Alex spoke up. “Talk clearly!” he commanded, when one of the younger birds Pepperberg was also teaching talked with wrong pronunciation.
Keyword: wrong, pronunciation IELTS xpress
Keyword Location: Paragraph H, 4th line
Explanation: The problem of the young parrots, except for Alex, was that they often ended up pronouncing a particular word wrong. Pepperberg said that he knew much more than the younger birds and would interrupt them when he got bored.


13 To some extent, through the way, he behaved what we can call him?

Answer: teenager

Supporting Sentence: “He knows all this, and he gets bored, so he interrupts the others, or he gives the wrong answer just to be obstinate. At this stage, he’s like a teenager; he’s moody, and I’m never sure what he’ll do.”
Keyword: bored, interrupts, teenager, moody
Keyword Location: Paragraph H, 6th and 7th line ieltsx press
Explanation: Alex, when bored, did not hesitate in interrupting the younger birds as he knew it all before them. He would sometimes give the wrong answer to act obstinate. Pepperberg refers to him as a teenager as he was moody, and she was never sure of his intentions that would follow at any given point in time.

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