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Nature & Environment Humans and Birds Have Similar Brain Wiring

Humans and Birds Have Similar Brain Wiring

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First Posted: Jul 17, 2013 11:03 PM EDT
New Species of Red Headed Bird With Loud Calls Discovered in Cambodia Capital
A new species of bird with distinct plumage and loud call was discovered in Cambodia Capital. (Photo : Ashish John/WCS)

The human brain is certainly unique. However, a new study shows that it's wirings are very similar to that of a bird. 

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According to researchers from the Imperial College London, they've been able to discover this crazy connection by comparing the brain diagrams of different animals to that of humans. Results show that areas important for high-level cognition such as long-term memory and problem solving are wired to other regions of the brain in a similar way between the two, despite that both mammal and bird brains have evolved completely separately.

 "Birds have been evolving separately from mammals for around 300 million years, so it is hardly surprising that under a microscope the brain of a bird looks quite different from a mammal. Yet, birds have been shown to be remarkably intelligent in a similar way to mammals such as humans and monkeys. Our study demonstrates that by looking at brains that are least like our own, yet still capable of generating intelligent behaviour, we can determine the basic principles governing the way brains work." said professor Murray Shanahan, author of the study from the Department of Computing at Imperial College London, via a press release.

The researchers developed this theory by analyzing 34 studies of the anatomy of a pigeon brain, which is the typical setup for most birds. They particularly focused on regions involving the hippocampus, which focuses as a navigational tool and long-term memory assistant in both birds and mammals. Both of the brains showed similar wiring patterns, which indicated that they function the same.

The prefrontal cortex was also compared between the two, an important part of decision making, with the nidopallium caudolateratle, which has a similar role in birds.

Researchers hope that more information from this study will provide a deeper look into how animal brains function and their connection to the human brain.

More information regarding this study can be found in the journal Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience

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