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No Longer Bird Brains

 
  February, 8 2005 9:38
your information resource in human molecular genetics
 
     
The idea that birds' brains are primitive is outmoded - they are just as advanced as mammals' brains, and should be renamed to reflect this. The new naming system is described in the February issue of Nature Reviews Neuroscience, and will affect how researchers think about the relationships between mammals and birds.

Recent studies show that birds are smart and adaptable. For example, crows can make tools, and parrots can use human words to communicate. So, a consortium of researchers, led by Erich Jarvis, compared parts of birds' brains with the brains of other animals, including mammals, and concluded that much of a bird's brain consists of so-called 'higher' structures, responsible for carrying out advanced functions like those in mammals.

The new naming system is designed to highlight these similarities, and is the culmination of a seven-year effort. Jarvis and colleagues say "We believe that names have a powerful influence on the experiments we do and the way in which we think," and they hope that their work will influence neuroscientists for years to come.

Author contact:

Erich Jarvis (Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA)
Tel: +1 919 681 1680
E-mail: jarvis@neuro.duke.edu

Also available online.

(C) Nature Reviews Drug Discovery press release.


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