Psychology Professor Ed Wasserman’s study, showing pigeons can detect breast cancer, receives international attention

Thursday, November 19, 2015
Professor Ed Wasserman
Ed Wasserman

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:

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.