Categories: Neuralrepresentations

Neural representations of space in the hippocampus of a food-caching bird

Conserved spatial memory mechanisms

Food-caching birds are memory specialists that can remember thousands of hidden food items. Using electrophysiological recordings from freely behaving birds, Payne et al. analyzed neuronal activity in the likely hippocampus homolog of two bird species, the tufted titmouse and the zebra finch. They chose these two species to compare, respectively, birds that do and do not display food-caching behavior. Place cells and typical hippocampal firing patterns that resembled rodent neuronal activity could be detected in the extreme memory specialists. Compared with titmice, however, spatial activity was noticeably weaker and less abundant in zebra finches. These findings provide evidence that the neural processes underlying spatial memory are remarkably conserved across widely divergent hippocampal circuits separated by millions of years of evolution.

Science, abg2009, this issue p. 343

Abstract

Spatial memory in vertebrates requires brain regions homologous to the mammalian hippocampus. Between vertebrate clades, ho

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