Brainiacs, not BIRD BRAINS:
Summary of this great article that can read in stats news. It is ground breaking research about crows and how smart they are. For people and scientists who know crows, this should come as no surprise, but there are so many people out there who just think that these socially smart birds who have families and friends they care for are nothing but pests and disrespect them just because man is ignorant.
Brainiacs, not BIRD BRAINS:
Crows possess higher intelligence long thought a primarily human attribute
- A second study, also in science, looked in unprecedented detail at the neuroanatomy of pigeons and barn owls, finding hints to the basis of their intelligence that likely applies to corvids’, too.
- “Together, the two papers show that intelligence/consciousness are grounded in connectivity and activity patterns of neurons” in the most neuron-dense part of the bird brain, called the pallium, neurobiologist Suzana Herculano-Houzel of Vanderbilt University, who wrote an analysis of the studies for science, told STAT.
- “It has been a good week for bird brains!” said crow expert John Marzluff of the University of Washington, who was not involved in the new studies.
- While the crows were solving these tasks, the researchers were tracking the activity of hundreds of their neurons.
- (Crows’ brains have 1.5 billion neurons, as many as some monkey species.)
- When the crows reported having seen a faint light, sensory neurons were active between the flash and the birds pecking the color that meant, yes, I saw that.
- Ozzy and Glenn’s brain activity systematically changed depending on whether or not they had perceived the dim flash.
- During the delay, many neurons responded according to the crows’ impending report, rather than to the brightness of the light.
- “A population of neurons contained information about the crows’ subjective experience throughout the trial,” the scientists wrote.
- The birds were aware of what they subjectively perceived, flash or no flash, correctly reporting what their sensory neurons recorded, Nieder told STAT.
- A second study looked in unprecedented detail at the neuroanatomy of pigeons and barn owls, finding hints to the basis of their intelligence that likely applies to corvids’, too.
- Specifically, the pigeons’ and owls’ neurons meet at right angles, forming computational circuits organized in columns.
- “The avian version of this connectivity blueprint could conceivably generate computational properties reminiscent of the [mammalian] neocortex,” they write.
- “[S]imilar microcircuits … achieve largely identical cognitive outcomes from seemingly vastly different forebrains.”
- That is, evolution invented connected, circuit-laden brain structure at least twice.
- “In theory, any brain that has a large number of neurons connected into associative circuitry … could be expected to add flexibility and complexity to behavior,” said Herculano-Houzel.
- “That is my favorite operational definition of intelligence: behavioral flexibility.”
- That enables pigeons to home, count, and be as trainable as monkeys.
- But for sheer smarts we’re still in the corvid camp.
- A 2014 study showed that New Caledonian crows, rooks, and European jays can solve an Aesop’s Fable challenge, dropping stones into a water-filled tube to bring a floating bit of food within reach, something kids generally can’t do until age 7.