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Ravens, New Caledonian crows and jackdaws parallel great apes in motor self-regulation despite smaller brains

Kabadayi, Can LU ; Taylor, Lucy; von Bayern, Auguste and Osvath, Mathias LU (2016) In Royal Society Open Science
Abstract
Overriding motor impulses instigated by salient perceptual stimuli represent a fundamental inhibitory skill. Such motor self-regulation facilitates more rational behaviour, as it brings economy into the bodily interaction with the physical and social world. It also underlies certain complex cognitive processes including decision making. Recently, MacLean et al. (MacLean et al. 2014 Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 2140–2148. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1323533111)) conducted a large-scale study involving 36 species, comparing motor self-regulation across taxa. They concluded that absolute brain size predicts level of performance. The great apes were most successful. Only a few of the species tested were birds. Given birds' small brain size—in absolute... (More)
Overriding motor impulses instigated by salient perceptual stimuli represent a fundamental inhibitory skill. Such motor self-regulation facilitates more rational behaviour, as it brings economy into the bodily interaction with the physical and social world. It also underlies certain complex cognitive processes including decision making. Recently, MacLean et al. (MacLean et al. 2014 Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 2140–2148. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1323533111)) conducted a large-scale study involving 36 species, comparing motor self-regulation across taxa. They concluded that absolute brain size predicts level of performance. The great apes were most successful. Only a few of the species tested were birds. Given birds' small brain size—in absolute terms—yet flexible behaviour, their motor self-regulation calls for closer study. Corvids exhibit some of the largest relative avian brain sizes—although small in absolute measure—as well as the most flexible cognition in the animal kingdom. We therefore tested ravens, New Caledonian crows and jackdaws in the so-called cylinder task. We found performance indistinguishable from that of great apes despite the much smaller brains. We found both absolute and relative brain volume to be a reliable predictor of performance within Aves. The complex cognition of corvids is often likened to that of great apes; our results show further that they share similar fundamental cognitive mechanisms. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
inhibition, motor self-regulation, corvid cognition, self-control, avian brains, Corvus
in
Royal Society Open Science
publisher
Royal Society
external identifiers
  • Scopus:84964277264
ISSN
2054-5703
DOI
10.1098/rsos.160104
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
b76424a7-cbeb-4ccf-95f2-d596737774da
date added to LUP
2016-05-02 14:05:51
date last changed
2016-10-27 08:55:53
@misc{b76424a7-cbeb-4ccf-95f2-d596737774da,
  abstract     = {Overriding motor impulses instigated by salient perceptual stimuli represent a fundamental inhibitory skill. Such motor self-regulation facilitates more rational behaviour, as it brings economy into the bodily interaction with the physical and social world. It also underlies certain complex cognitive processes including decision making. Recently, MacLean et al. (MacLean et al. 2014 Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 2140–2148. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1323533111)) conducted a large-scale study involving 36 species, comparing motor self-regulation across taxa. They concluded that absolute brain size predicts level of performance. The great apes were most successful. Only a few of the species tested were birds. Given birds' small brain size—in absolute terms—yet flexible behaviour, their motor self-regulation calls for closer study. Corvids exhibit some of the largest relative avian brain sizes—although small in absolute measure—as well as the most flexible cognition in the animal kingdom. We therefore tested ravens, New Caledonian crows and jackdaws in the so-called cylinder task. We found performance indistinguishable from that of great apes despite the much smaller brains. We found both absolute and relative brain volume to be a reliable predictor of performance within Aves. The complex cognition of corvids is often likened to that of great apes; our results show further that they share similar fundamental cognitive mechanisms.},
  author       = {Kabadayi, Can and Taylor, Lucy and von Bayern, Auguste and Osvath, Mathias},
  issn         = {2054-5703},
  keyword      = {inhibition,motor self-regulation,corvid cognition,self-control,avian brains,Corvus},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {04},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0xaeeb9a8)},
  series       = {Royal Society Open Science},
  title        = {Ravens, New Caledonian crows and jackdaws parallel great apes in motor self-regulation despite smaller brains},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.160104 },
  year         = {2016},
}