Brain mechanisms, cognition and behaviour in birds

  • Gibbs M
  • Gibbs C
  • Csillag A
 et al. 
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Birds have highly developed capabilities in regard to visual and auditory perception and memory, and serve as an outstanding model for studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms of motivation and learning, behaviours that are common to most mammals, including humans. The recent NIH re-evaluation of avian neuroanatomy has concluded that the brains of birds are much closer to mammalian brains in terms of functional organization than previously thought. This led the NIH to issue a statement in 2005 strongly supporting the use of avian brain models for the study of human brain functions. The papers presented in this special issue overlap in themed content to some degree but can be broadly grouped into those dissecting out brain mechanisms and neural circuits involved in learning and motivation and those looking at decision making and cues used incomplex learning. The chick has been usedwidely as an animal model to examine the underlying mechanisms of learning and memory both at the anatomical and biochemical levels. Memory in mammals depends upon the involvement of a number of different brain areas and noradrenaline has been identified as a key transmitter modulating the consolidation of memory. Birds can be trained and tested in compact and standardized procedures, enabling experimenters to speed up research. In particular, since birds have clear-cut action patterns their behaviour can be quantified precisely. Birds provide us with unique opportunities to explore the relationship between brain function and behaviour. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved)

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