Congratulations to the Aronov lab for their recent publication in Science titled “Neural representations of space in the hippocampus of a food caching bird”. The first author is Dr. Hannah Payne a post-doctoral fellow in the Aronov lab. Aronov and his lab members were able to determine that food-caching birds that have excellent memories, such as the tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), form similar neural patterns as mammals in the memory portion of their brain (the hippocampus) when navigating through space. They also tested the non food-caching zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) in order to see if they could identify similar patterns. The zebra finch brain showed much weaker spatial activity in the hippocampus than the titmice. This is the first study to show some of these neural patterns in a non-mammalian brain. These findings also suggest that while bird and mammals brains diverged evolutionarily millions of years ago there are still aspects which have remained the same over such vast periods of time. Aronov and his lab members have been working in Black Rock Forest to facilitate their research for a number of years and we are happy to be a part of such groundbreaking research.
Black Rock Forest parking lots and trailheads have reopened. Please exercise extreme caution on trails and roads, and especially stream crossings!