September 26, 2017
The density of nerve cells in the human cerebral cortex is six times smaller than in the respective brain region in pigeons. Consequently, the average distance between two neurons in pigeons is only approximately half the size compared to …more
Pigeons are capable of switching between two tasks as quickly as humans – and even more quickly in certain situations. These are the findings of biopsychologists who had performed the same behavioural experiments to test birds and humans. The authors hypothesize that the cause of the slight multitasking advantage in birds is their higher neuronal density.
Dr Sara Letzner and Prof Dr Dr h. c. Onur Güntürkün from Ruhr-Universität Bochum published the results in the journal Current Biology in collaboration with Prof Dr Christian Beste from the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus at Technische Universität Dresden.
"For a long time, scientists used to believe the mammalian cerebral cortex to be the anatomical cause of cognitive ability; it is made up of six cortical layers," says Sara Letzner. In birds, however, such a structure does not exist. "That means the structure of the mammalian cortex cannot be decisive for complex cognitive functions such as multitasking," continues Letzner.