Photo of the cognitive testing interface running on the custom experimental apparatus.


May-August 2007


Cindy Wei


generative, interface, cognition, research

Interactive Graphical Interface for Testing Cognitive Abilities of Corvids

I developed interactive graphical interfaces for a research team trying to understand the cognitive abilities of the corvid family of birds at the Center for Avian Cognition in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The software was developed for the MS-DOS operating system using the C programming language and a legacy graphics and resistive touch detection library and a custom bird feeder control library.

The graphical interfaces were not traditional interfaces! Each of them served as a test for a particular cognitive ability. Likewise, the interfaces were for use by birds, not human. The interfaces were shown to birds on a touchscreen reinforced to withstand the force of a bird's peck while not obstructing the image. The software I wrote displayed a generated interface to a bird, detected where it pecked on the screen. When the bird pecked in the "correct" location, when they demonstrated behavior for specific cognitive tasks, the software triggered a custom bird feeder to dispense a small number of seeds to reward the behavior.