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17.9.03

Geography will swell your brain

As Autumn Approaches, This Chickadee's Brain Begins To Expand

In the fall, as the chickadee is gathering and storing seeds, [Lehigh University biologist Colin] Saldanha says, its hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for spatial organization and memory in many vertebrates, expands in volume by approximately 30 percent by adding new nerve cells. In songbirds, the hippocampus is located on the dorsal surface of the forebrain right beneath the skull. In mammals, the hippocampus is located beneath the cortex.

In the spring, when its feats of memory are needed less, the chickadee's hippocampus shrinks back to its normal size, Saldanha says.

-- via Nature is Profligate

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