Pigeons (Yes, Pigeons) Can Tell Us About Human Brain

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Our brain hemispheres work in coordination. They must sync although usually one side of the brain is more active than the other. Still, there are some tasks that require both sides work equally and working together.

A pair of researchers from Ruhr-Universitat are investigating how those tasks evolve. Using pigeons, they are demonstrating that the ability to combine complex impressions from both hemispheres depends on environmental factors prior to birth.

During an embryonic stage, eggs inside the shell turn oneeyeclose to the eggshell. The other eye is obscured by the body. Light stimulation then causes asymmetrical development which influences brain development. Dr. Martina Manns, PhD, uses that in her experiments.

The hatched eggs in a dark incubator and a group in a lighted incubator. After examining the birds, they have concluded that without light-stimulation hemispheric information exchange is impaired.

Developmental disorders like ADHD or autism are characterized by a deviating pattern between the hemispheres. There is a possibility that the results of this study may help to understand those disorders.

In order to measure brain hemispheric coordination and how efficient the birds are at handling incoming information, Manns and Juliane Romling, her colleague, gave the birds a task that can only be solved with both brain hemispheres working together.

They had to remember color pairs in combination in order to get rewarded with food. The pigeons have to learn to tell the color combination first with one eye and then with the other in order to gain the reward.

They discovered that only the birds with light experience could figure it out.

Source: ScienceDaily, Nature Communications


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