Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bird brain? Birds and humans have similar brain wiring

Date:
July 17, 2013
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
You may have more in common with a pigeon than you realize, according to research.

You may have more in common with a pigeon than you realize, according to research.
Credit: © Xavier Allard / Fotolia

You may have more in common with a pigeon than you realise, according to research. It shows that humans and birds have brains that are wired in a similar way.

Related Articles


A researcher from Imperial College London and his colleagues have developed for the first time a map of a typical bird brain, showing how different regions are connected together to process information. By comparing it to brain diagrams for different mammals such as humans, the team discovered that areas important for high-level cognition such as long-term memory and problem solving are wired up to other regions of the brain in a similar way. This is despite the fact that both mammal and bird brains have been evolving down separate paths over hundreds of millions of years.

The team suggest that evolution has discovered a common blueprint for high-level cognition in brain development.

Birds have been shown in previous studies to possess a range of skills such as a capacity for complex social reasoning, an ability to problem solve and some have even demonstrated the capability to craft and use tools.

Professor Murray Shanahan, author of the study from the Department of Computing at Imperial College London, says: "Birds have been evolving separately from mammals for around 300 million years, so it is hardly surprising that under a microscope the brain of a bird looks quite different from a mammal. Yet, birds have been shown to be remarkably intelligent in a similar way to mammals such as humans and monkeys. Our study demonstrates that by looking at brains that are least like our own, yet still capable of generating intelligent behaviour, we can determine the basic principles governing the way brains work."

The team developed their map by analysing 34 studies of the anatomy of the pigeon brain, which is typical for a bird. They focussed on areas called 'hub nodes', which are regions of the brain that are major centres for processing information and are important for high level cognition.

In particular, they looked at the hippocampus, which is important for navigation and long-term memory in both birds and mammals. They found that these hub nodes had very dense connections to other parts of the brain in both kinds of animal, suggesting they function in a similar way.

They also compared the prefrontal cortex in mammals, which is important for complex thought such as decision making, with the nidopallium caudolaterale, which has a similar role in birds. They discovered that despite both hub nodes having evolved differently, the way they are wired up within the brain looks similar.

The long-term goal of the team is to use the information generated from the wiring diagram to build computer models that mimic the way that animal brains function, which would be used to control a robot.

The study was published this month in the Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience journal.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Imperial College London. The original article was written by Colin Smith. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Onur Güntürkün, Martin Wild, Toru Shimizu, Verner P. Bingman, Murray Shanahan. Large-scale network organization in the avian forebrain: a connectivity matrix and theoretical analysis. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 2013; 7 DOI: 10.3389/fncom.2013.00089

Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "Bird brain? Birds and humans have similar brain wiring." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130717095336.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2013, July 17). Bird brain? Birds and humans have similar brain wiring. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130717095336.htm
Imperial College London. "Bird brain? Birds and humans have similar brain wiring." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130717095336.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) — A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins