Brain rhythms occurring during sleep are implicated in processing information acquired during wakefulness, but this phenomenon has almost exclusively been studied in mammals. In this review we discuss the potential value of utilizing birds to elucidate the functions and underlying mechanisms of such brain rhythms. Birds are of particular interest from a comparative perspective because even though neurons in the avian brain homologous to mammalian neocortical neurons are arranged in a nuclear, rather than a laminar manner, the avian brain generates mammalian-like sleep-states and associated brain rhythms. Nonetheless, until recently, this nuclear organization also posed technical challenges, as the standard surface EEG recording methods used to study the neocortex provide only a superficial view of the sleeping avian brain. The recent development of high-density multielectrode recording methods now provides access to sleep-related brain activity occurring deep in the avian brain. Finally, we discuss how intracerebral electrical imaging based on this technique can be used to elucidate the systems-level processing of hippocampal-dependent and imprinting memories in birds.
Keywords: Bird; Imprinting; Memory; Multielectrode; Sleep; Slow waves.
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