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How researchers look at the bird brain in action

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How do birds make selections and which mind areas are notably energetic after they remedy duties? Researchers from the Division of Biopsychology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) are investigating these questions. Thus far, solely anesthetized birds and subsequently passive experiments may very well be examined utilizing the practical magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Thus, the examination of mind processes throughout energetic duties was not doable. Now the cognitive neuroscientists on the Biopsychology lab have constructed an experimental set-up which permits them to hold out fMRI examinations on awake pigeons and thus additionally examine cognitive processes for the primary time. They revealed their outcomes on-line within the journal “Nature Communications” on 18 September 2020.

Opening and shutting the beak

Throughout the new experimental setup, the animals could be offered with duties that they actively work on. Throughout this time, fMRI recordings are repeatedly made in order that the exercise of the mind areas which might be energetic throughout activity processing is recorded. In distinction to fMRI examinations in people, during which the contributors can reply to duties by urgent buttons, the pigeons reply by opening and shutting their beak, which is registered by a sensor beneath the beak.

The researchers checked the standard of the gained fMRI photographs in a take a look at examine. The pigeons needed to be taught to distinguish between two colors. The animals realized to react to the looks of the right color by opening their beak and obtained a reward for proper solutions. “This examine was only a take a look at run to indicate whether or not the scan in awake behaving birds works as we had anticipated,” explains Mehdi Behroozi, the primary writer of the examine.

The best way is open for extra advanced investigations

“The fMRI information of the take a look at examine confirmed that even with this easy discrimination activity, an entire community of areas within the pigeon’s mind is energetic, which couldn’t but be represented in its entirety,” says Onur Güntürkün, Professor of Biopsychology at RUB in regards to the outcomes of the take a look at examine. “Now the way in which is open for investigations with extra advanced cognitive duties. Particularly at a time once we are amazed to search out out increasingly more how clever birds are, this breakthrough will assist to establish the mind foundation of those skills,” provides Güntürkün.

About practical magnetic resonance imaging

In practical magnetic resonance tomography, slice photographs of the mind are generated utilizing a powerful magnet. They present how nicely particular person components of the mind are equipped with oxygen. Mind areas which might be very energetic have a decrease oxygen saturation than much less energetic areas. Due to this fact one can for example see which areas of the mind are notably challenged when fixing a activity.

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Materials offered by Ruhr-University Bochum. Notice: Content material could also be edited for fashion and size.

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