Video games may improve bird health

If you think video games are only for the younger generation, think again. In fact, the next population to play them may be your avian patients.

Researchers from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) and its Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center are developing video games that birds can play on a tablet, CVM announced on June 14.

As part of an entrepreneurial program sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Innovation Corps Program, the researchers interviewed 127 bird owners to assess the market value and technology need among bird owners. They then set to work.

The first game developed, a stimulus discrimination test, is similar to the popular game “whack-a-mole,” noted Constance “Connie” Woodman, a PhD student working on the project. “Picture a pop-up on the screen, and if the birds yelled at the pop-up to ‘scare’ it away, the picture would go away. Then, the bird gets a reward from the dispenser.

For birds like pet parrots, who are highly intelligent, the video games can do more than entertain; they can also provide much-needed mental stimulation and exercise from the continuous movement the game play demands.

Photo credit: © iStock/bo-rmotalka

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