Hippocampal volume and food-storing behavior are related in parids

Brain Behav Evol. 1995;45(1):54-61. doi: 10.1159/000113385.


The size of the hippocampus has been previously shown to reflect species differences and sex differences in reliance on spatial memory to locate ecologically important resources, such as food and mates. Black-capped chickadees (Parus atricapillus) cached more food than did either Mexican chickadees (P. sclateri) or bridled titmice (P. wollweberi) in two tests of food storing, one conducted in an aviary and another in smaller home cages. Black-capped chickadees were also found to have a larger hippocampus, relative to the size of the telencephalon, than the other two species. Differences in the frequency of food storing behavior among the three species have probably produced differences in the use of hippocampus-dependent memory and spatial information processing to recover stored food, resulting in graded selection for size of the hippocampus.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology*
  • Biological Evolution
  • Birds / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Food Preferences / physiology
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Predatory Behavior / physiology
  • Social Environment
  • Species Specificity