Memory researchers study nutcracker brain

Oct 10, 2006

U.S. scientists are studying Clark's nutcracker -- a bird that remembers where it buries its food in a 15-mile area -- to learn more about memory.

University of New Hampshire scientists say the Clark's nutcracker spends several weeks each autumn gathering food stores. What makes it unique is that it harvests more than 30,000 pine nuts, buries them in up to 5,000 caches and then relies almost solely on its memory as to where those caches are located to survive through winter.

Brett Gibson, an assistant professor in UNH's psychology department, and graduate student Tyler Wilks are investigating how the birds use navigational strategy to find their food.

"Nutcrackers are almost exclusively dependent upon cache recovery for their survival. So if they don't remember where they've made those caches, then they are in trouble," Gibson said.

"For us it would probably be very difficult to remember where we put 33,000 items, but these guys do it really well because of the environment they live in," Gibson said. "It's a problem evolution has solved by developing this very good memory for spatial information."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Homeless, mentally ill women face vicious cycle in India

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Elderly brains learn, but maybe too much

7 hours ago

A new study led by Brown University reports that older learners retained the mental flexibility needed to learn a visual perception task but were not as good as younger people at filtering out irrelevant ...

Inpatient psychotherapy is effective in Germany

10 hours ago

Sarah Liebherz (Department of Medical Psychology, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf) and Sven Rabung (Institute of Psychology, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt) have examined 59 studies conducted between 1977 ...

A game changer to boost literacy and maths skills

12 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Finding the best way to teach reading has been an ongoing challenge for decades, especially for those children in underprivileged areas who fail to learn to read. What is the magic ingredient that will ...

How do we make moral judgements?

13 hours ago

In a target article published in the current issue of the American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB) Neuroscience, Université de Montréal and IRCM neuroethics experts open the black box of moral intuitions by suggesting a new ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.