Seed-stashing chickadees overturn ideas about location memory

Seed-stashing chickadees overturn ideas about location memory

Certain neurons encode memories of events that occurred in specific physical locations known as place fields. Chickadees show patterns of neuronal activity that are specific to locations of hidden food but independent of place fields.
  1. Margaret M. Donahue
    1. Margaret M. Donahue is in the Center for Learning and Memory and the Institute for Neuroscience, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.
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  2. Laura Lee Colgin
    1. Laura Lee Colgin is in the Center for Learning and Memory and the Institute for Neuroscience, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.
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Food caching, or storing food for later consumption, is a crucial behaviour for many animals, including several avian and mammalian species. The black-capped chickadee ( Poecile atricapillus, Fig. 1) is an example of a bird that exhibits food-caching behaviours. Other animals steal cached food, so chickadees often return to check but not recover caches, and they will later recover cached food after periods of hours, days or even weeks, suggesting that they have robust mechanisms for encoding and storing memories. Chickadees can also remember thousands of cache sites, indicating an amazing memory-storage capacity. Writing in Cell, Chettih and colleagues1 record the activity of neurons in freely behaving chickadees to explore how location-specific memories are made.

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Nature 629, 1005-1006 (2024)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-024-01500-y

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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