Saturday, December 01, 2007

Reading a Pigeon’s Brain

A Pigeon uses many methods to find their way around. These methods include the magnetic fields, the sun, and possibly scent. It was speculated that pigeons used landmarks to help in their homing abilities. With the use of small electrical caps that were implanted into the heads of pigeons, researchers were able to support this idea.

The small electrical caps are able to pick up brain frequencies and record them. The researchers also attached a GPS unit to the pigeon so that they could track their progress. Once these were in place on the pigeons, the pigeons were brought 50 kilometers away from their loft and released. Once the pigeons reached their home, they analyzed the information from their GPS units and brain frequency records. The results showed that the pigeons do in fact use landmarks as a helpful way to navigate. Pigeon’s brain waves were very low or high over the ocean, mostly due to the fact that there are no landmarks to be used while flying over it. This changed as soon as the pigeons reached land. As soon as the pigeons were flying above land, their brain frequency dropped into mid frequency waves. Mid frequency waves are waves that show that an animal is paying attention, and in this case the pigeons may have been paying attention to the landmarks around the city.

To test this hypothesis further, researchers once again released the birds but this time only 5 kilometers away from their home. Due to past experiments the researchers knew that the pigeons used a certain highway sign as a landmark. Once the pigeons arrived back, their information was analyzed and it was shown that the pigeons were paying attention at the point they were near the highway sign. This showed that they were using the highway sign as a landmark.

This study will hopefully be adapted to many other animals that may or may not use landmarks as a navigational tool. It would be quite interesting to find out if this is true in other species.

Posted by Chris Kennedy(1o)


At 6:54 PM, Blogger PWH said...

This article is interesting because it shows how advanced the pigeons brain is. I am interested to know if any other birds use landmarks to find their way. If they do, then is there a special region in the brain that is used for this behavior? How about other animals? This article is very well written and intriguing!! Good Job!!

Nelina Bridge (10)

At 5:43 PM, Blogger PWH said...

Interesting article. Does this apply to all pigeons? I know that people raise pigeons and release, but I was wondering if all had this capability. Also, are there any links?

Doug Zelisko(10)

At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Peanutbutter&Jelly said...

I thought this article was really interesting because it talks about a topic that's not really brought up or heard about in everyday lives. I already knew that the pigeons use the sun and the magnetic fields to guide their way around however, I didn't know they also use scent to find their way. I really found it amazing and surprising, in a way, that with the implantation of the electrical caps the researchers were able to tell that the pigeons use the landmarks as a way to navigate. It's amazing how some of the birds' and animals' brains work even better than human beings' such as chickadees who can find their food even after a few weeks. I thought it was a really good article, and really very interesting too. Great Job!!!!!!!!!

Posted By Peanutbutter&jelly


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