Psychology Professor Ed Wasserman’s study, showing pigeons can detect breast cancer, receives international attention
A new study by University of Iowa Professor Ed Wasserman shows pigeons can tell the difference between cancerous and normal breast tissue. Using selective food reinforcement, researchers successfully trained pigeons to categorize digitized slides and mammograms showing benign and malignant breast tissue.
Wasserman is the Stuit Professor of Experimental Psychology in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, part of the UI College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
The study, published Nov. 18 in the journal PLOS One, has received international attention. Read coverage of Wasserman's study from the following news outlets:
- New York Times Paging Dr. Pigeon; You’re Needed in Radiology
- Washington Post Can mammogram-reading pigeons help train human radiologists? An animal behaviorist weighs in
- Smithsonian Pigeons can spot breast cancer in medical images
- Science Pigeons spot cancer as well as human experts
- NBC News Bird brain? Pigeons make good pathologists, study finds
- CNN Pigeons, the next great cancer detector?
- IFL Science Pigeons trained to spot cancer
- Discovery News Pigeons good at detecting breast cancer
- New Scientist Pigeons taught to diagnose breast cancer on X-rays
- Mirror Pigeons can spot breast cancer in women's scans 'as accurately as human experts'
- Motherboard Pigeons could help detect breast cancer
- Improbable Research Pigeons as trained observers in the war on cancer
Read the Iowa Now story about the study, and watch a video about the research below.
The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Iowa is a comprehensive college offering 67 majors in the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. More than 17,000 undergraduate and 2,200 graduate students study each year in the College’s 39 departments, led by professors at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all UI undergraduates through the General Education Program, and confers about 70 percent of the UI's bachelor's degrees each academic year.