Advanced

Memory and brain in food-storing birds: Space oddities or adaptive specializations?

Brodin, Anders LU and Bolhuis, Johan J (2008) In Ethology 114(7). p.633-645
Abstract
Scatterhoarding birds that cache food items have become an important model system for the study of spatial memory and its correlates in the brain. In particular, it has been suggested that through adaptive specialization, species that cache food have better spatial memory and a relatively larger hippocampus than their non-caching relatives. Critics of this approach, dubbed neuroecology, maintain that neither of these hypotheses has been confirmed. Here, we review the evidence pertaining to a correlation between food-storing capability and the relative volume of the hippocampus. Hippocampal volume has been related to food-storing behaviour in comparisons between species, within species, or within individuals, but the evidence is not... (More)
Scatterhoarding birds that cache food items have become an important model system for the study of spatial memory and its correlates in the brain. In particular, it has been suggested that through adaptive specialization, species that cache food have better spatial memory and a relatively larger hippocampus than their non-caching relatives. Critics of this approach, dubbed neuroecology, maintain that neither of these hypotheses has been confirmed. Here, we review the evidence pertaining to a correlation between food-storing capability and the relative volume of the hippocampus. Hippocampal volume has been related to food-storing behaviour in comparisons between species, within species, or within individuals, but the evidence is not consistent. There are several possible reasons for this inconsistency, including: (1) food-hoarding birds may not always use memory for retrieval, (2) there may be systematic differences between data from North American and Eurasian species that affect the analysis, and (3) sample sizes have in many cases been too small. In addition, both the independent variable (degree of food-hoarding specialization) and the dependent variable (relative volume of the hippocampus) are not clearly and consistently defined. Alternatively, it is possible that the neuroecological hypothesis is false. Systematic empirical research is necessary to determine whether or not food-storing birds have evolved adaptive specializations in brain and cognition. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Ethology
volume
114
issue
7
pages
633 - 645
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • wos:000256538600001
  • scopus:44949251953
ISSN
1439-0310
DOI
10.1111/j.1439-0310.2008.01508.x
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
3e739008-8019-4ea9-ab41-03658973bc41 (old id 1201331)
date added to LUP
2008-09-15 09:52:20
date last changed
2017-01-01 05:59:41
@article{3e739008-8019-4ea9-ab41-03658973bc41,
  abstract     = {Scatterhoarding birds that cache food items have become an important model system for the study of spatial memory and its correlates in the brain. In particular, it has been suggested that through adaptive specialization, species that cache food have better spatial memory and a relatively larger hippocampus than their non-caching relatives. Critics of this approach, dubbed neuroecology, maintain that neither of these hypotheses has been confirmed. Here, we review the evidence pertaining to a correlation between food-storing capability and the relative volume of the hippocampus. Hippocampal volume has been related to food-storing behaviour in comparisons between species, within species, or within individuals, but the evidence is not consistent. There are several possible reasons for this inconsistency, including: (1) food-hoarding birds may not always use memory for retrieval, (2) there may be systematic differences between data from North American and Eurasian species that affect the analysis, and (3) sample sizes have in many cases been too small. In addition, both the independent variable (degree of food-hoarding specialization) and the dependent variable (relative volume of the hippocampus) are not clearly and consistently defined. Alternatively, it is possible that the neuroecological hypothesis is false. Systematic empirical research is necessary to determine whether or not food-storing birds have evolved adaptive specializations in brain and cognition.},
  author       = {Brodin, Anders and Bolhuis, Johan J},
  issn         = {1439-0310},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {7},
  pages        = {633--645},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Ethology},
  title        = {Memory and brain in food-storing birds: Space oddities or adaptive specializations?},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0310.2008.01508.x},
  volume       = {114},
  year         = {2008},
}