Thursday, October 12, 2006

Clark's Nutcrackers help with memory research

The clever corvids store food in preparation for winter, then must remember the caches' locations. University of New Hampshire researcher Brett Gibson said:

"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. During winter, their cache locations are covered with snow, so many of the small local features in the landscape during fall are no longer available to them. What's clear is that they are using spatial memory to recover these caches. They are remembering these caches based on landmarks and other features of the terrain."
The research might help us understand the evolution of memory as well as "insights across species about brain function and the hippocampus, a part of the brain important for memory and one of the first regions of the brain to suffer damage in Alzheimer's patients."

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