"Spatial Cognition and the Avian Hippocampus"

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Special Seminar with guest speaker Dr. Diano Marrone, Associate Professor, Wilfred Laurier University


Spatial cognition (that is, the ability to perceive, operate on, and recall information about spatial environments) is critical to the survival of any species. Accordingly, a wealth of research has investigated this vital form of cognition. This research shows that the hippocampal formation (HF) and surrounding cortical structures are critical for this kind of learning. Mechanistic research into the neural circuitry supporting spatial cognition, however, has focused almost exclusively on mammals. Like mammals, avian species also have the ability to solve advanced (e.g., food caching, migration) spatial problems. Despite the sophisticated behavioural repertoire that can be observed in birds, relatively little is known about the neural substrate of spatial learning in these animals. This is in part because the avian HF lacks many of the defining features of its mammalian counterpart. In fact, even the subdivisions of the avian HF remain a matter of debate. We may be able to resolve this issue by defining the regions of the avian HF on the basis of their functional, rather than anatomical, homology. Towards this goal, recent work by my lab and others using both electrophysiological recordings in freely-moving animals and activity-dependent gene expression across widespread regions of the avian HF will be presented.

Room or Area: 


Amanda Mauthe-Kaddoura | amanda.mauthe2@uleth.ca | (403) 332-4099