The hippocampus, spatial memory and food hoarding: a puzzle revisited

Susan Denise Healy, SR de Kort, NS Clayton

Research output: Other contribution

88 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Behavioural ecology assumes that cognitive traits and their underlying neural substrates are shaped by natural selection in much the same way as morphological traits are, resulting in adaptation to the natural environment of the species concerned. Recently, however, the 'neuroecology' approach of attempting to gain insight into brain structure and function by testing predictions about variation in brain structure based on knowledge of the lifestyle of the animal has been criticized on the grounds that such an adaptationist view cannot provide insight into the underlying mechanisms. Furthermore, the criticism has focussed on attempts to use variation in demand for spatial memory and in hippocampal size as a basis for predicting variation in cognitive abilities. Here, we revisit this critique against the field of so-called 'neuroecology' and argue that using knowledge of the natural history of animals has lead to a better understanding of the interspecific variation in spatial abilities and hippocampal size, and to the generation of novel hypotheses and predictions.

Original languageEnglish
Volume20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005

Keywords

  • CHICKADEES POECILE-GAMBELI
  • BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES
  • STORING BIRDS
  • SEX-DIFFERENCES
  • SCRUB JAYS
  • LARGER HIPPOCAMPUS
  • CLARKS NUTCRACKERS
  • RADIAL MAZE
  • VOLUME
  • EVOLUTION

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