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Development of Spatial Memory and the Hippocampus under Nutritional Stress: Adaptive Priorities or Developmental Constraints in Brain Development?

Edited by Vladimir V. Pravosudov

in Cognitive Ecology II

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226169354
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226169378 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226169378.003.0006
Development of Spatial Memory and the Hippocampus under Nutritional Stress: Adaptive Priorities or Developmental Constraints in Brain Development?

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This chapter explains the effects of nutritional stress during development, with a focus on the hippocampus and spatial memory. Research work done on spatial memory in birds has provided a clear link between the ecological need to store food, a relatively enhanced spatial memory used to retrieve the cached food, and the relative volume of the hippocampus, the brain region processing spatial memory. With the importance of spatial memory for the survival of certain bird species, the author predicted that hippocampal development, and hence spatial memory, would remain intact even under nutritional stress. The data in the chapter refute that prediction and suggest that constraints during development preclude the insulation of certain brain regions from nutritional stress. Also, favoring animals with better spatial learning might provide an easier path for natural selection to select for better parents to produce high-quality offspring, rather than resolving the potential developmental constraint issue.

Keywords: spatial memory; hippocampus; nutritional stress; developmental constraint; birds; brain

Chapter.  7678 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology

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