Pigeons are being used to spot breast cancer in mammograms
Pigeons are proving to be good for more than just picking up your lunch scraps.Scientists say it's possible that the birds can spot breast cancer in women's mammograms as accurately as human experts.
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A study published in PLOS ONE involved training 16 pigeons to identify malignant and benign tissue in mammogram scans. When the birds pecked a touchscreen button with the corresponding category, they were rewarded with food.
After nine days of training, the birds were able to pick out cancerous scans from benign images more than 80% of the time!
Next, researchers grouped them together for a technique called "flock sourcing" — in which the pigeons essentially "voted" on what the image showed. They produced even greater accuracy of 99% comparable to professionals.
Pigeons are an interesting choice to trust your health with, but according to scientists, they share a very similar visual system to people — and probably better by the looks of it. Figuring out how the pigeons process visual cues could help refine imaging for diagnosis.
Also see these incredible ancient birds:
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