The effects of hippocampal and area parahippocampalis lesions on the processing and retention of serial-order behavior, autoshaping, and spatial behavior in pigeons

Hippocampus. 2021 Mar;31(3):261-280. doi: 10.1002/hipo.23287. Epub 2020 Dec 4.


We examined the role of the avian hippocampus and area parahippocampalis in serial-order behavior and a variety of other tasks known to be sensitive to hippocampal damage in mammals. Damage to the hippocampus and area parahippocampalis caused impairments in autoshaping and performance on an analogue of a radial-arm maze task, but had no effect on acquisition of 2-item, 3-item, and 4-item serial-order lists. Additionally, the lesions had no effect on the retention of 3-items lists, or on the ability to perform novel derived lists composed of elements from lists they had previously learned. The impairments in autoshaping and spatial behavior are consistent with the findings in mammals. The absence of impairments on the serial-order task may also be consistent once one considers that damage to the hippocampus in mammals seems to affect more internally-organized rather than externally-organized serial-order tasks. Together, the findings support the view that the avian hippocampal complex serves a function very similar to the mammalian hippocampus, a finding that is interesting given that the architecture of the avian hippocampus differs dramatically from that of the mammalian hippocampus.

Keywords: autoshaping; avian; hippocampus; pigeon; serial-order behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Columbidae*
  • Hippocampus
  • Spatial Behavior*