Birds May Have Consciousness and Self-awareness Like Humans

Birds May Have Consciousness and Self-awareness Like Humans

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If you consider pigeons and other birds stupid, you’re wrong.

An inventive discovery produced in two papers reveals that scientists conclude that birds are not only smart but could be conscious and self-aware.

The two papers by Ruhr University Bochum and the University of Tübingen detailed a pioneering alignment of microcircuits in the brains of birds identical to the mammalian neocortex.

Are birds conscious?

Birds are known to lack a neocortex, the part of the brain which regulates memory, analytics, and planning in mammals.

According to wildlife biologist and specialist on crows at the University of Washington, Seattle, John Marzluff, speak of the probability that birds can think and perceive actuality like humans.

Ruhr University’s neuroanatomist Martin Stacho indicated that while both mammal and avian brains share a lack of commonality, they still possess many of the same cognitive skills.

How did researchers conclude that birds are smarter than presumed?

To comprehend the intelligence of avian friends, Stacho and his team analyzed microscopic slices of three homing pigeon brains through 3D polarized light imaging.

Using this high-resolution technique, researchers could read the circuitry of the pallium, the forebrain area like the neocortex. Scientists then compared these images of bird’s pallia with a monkey, rat, and human cortices to make the ground-breaking discovery.

To figure out why birds are as intelligent as mammals, the researchers removed the brains of deeply anaesthetized pigeons and owls, injected crystals into dissected brains to unearth circuits in the sensory regions like that of mammals.

Marzluff claimed to have found that though the mammal and avian brains seem dissimilar, they’re wired identically.

Do birds have self-awareness?

University of Tübingen neurophysiologist Andreas Nieder researched the brains of carrion crows. These crows (Corvus corrone) are known to be intelligent.

Applying similar tests used to find consciousness in primates, Nieder and his team set up a monitor that showed a faint cue. They then trained two lab-bred carrion crows to move or stay still based on what was shown on the monitor.

Implanting electrodes in their brains to record their neuronal signals

Each time the crows reacted, the neurons fired. For researchers, this is a conclusion that the crows have consciously perceived the cue.

When the birds stayed motionless, the neurons were silent. These same neurons are located in the pallia.

Despite bird and mammal brains evolving differently, both Stacho and Nieder think that the two species are wired similarly due to their shared common ancestry 320 million years ago.

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