The Alex Studies: Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Grey Parrots


 Click on the cover above to go to this book at

This is the academic version of the story of Irene Pepperberg and Alex the Parrot, who became famous for learning to use human language. It's a fascinating book for anyone interested in language. For example, one way that Irene Pepperberg taught Alex was to teach her assistant in front of him - and as an English teacher, I have found that small children learn well if I have a few sessions 'teaching' their mothers alongside the kids.

Parrots, as Pepperberg has shown, don't just mimic words, they can understand them. It's true that parrots aren't as creative as small humans in producing sentences, but small humans are primed to use human language, whereas parrots are learning the language of another species!

This is an academic book, so it's more enjoyable for people who like serious academic works, and aren't put off by the extensive notes that support what Pepperberg discusses. It also helps you make sense of this book if you have a background in psychology, linguistics, or biology. If you want an easier read, try 'Alex and Me', the more informal account of her relationship with Alex, described above.