Bird Brains: Jays show episodic-like memory

summary: Eurasian jays exhibit episodic memory, a type of memory previously thought to be unique to humans, a new study finds. The birds were able to remember incidental details of past events, such as the visual properties of the cups used in the food-hiding experiment.

This finding suggests that episodic memory may not be limited to humans and could help jays find stored food.

Key facts:

  • Eurasian Jays show episodic memory by remembering episodic details of past events.
  • This ability is similar to “mental time travel” in humans, allowing us to consciously reimagine past experiences.
  • Episodic memory may help jays locate stored food.

source: Plus

Eurasian jays can remember episodic details of past events, which is typical of episodic memory in humans, according to a study published May 15, 2024, in the open access journal One plus By James Davies of the University of Cambridge, UK, and colleagues.

When remembering events, humans have the ability to “mentally time travel,” consciously reimagining past experiences and perhaps recalling details that seemed unimportant at the time. Some researchers have suggested that this “episodic memory” is unique to humans.

Despite changing the positions of the cups and the additional time delay, the birds still correctly identified the baited cup based on its visual characteristics 70% of the time. Credit: Neuroscience News

In this study, Davies and colleagues conducted a memory experiment to test episodic memory in seven Eurasian jays, birds that excel at remembering the location of stored food.

In the experiment, the birds watched food placed under one cup in a row of four identical cups, and were then rewarded for correctly selecting the baited cup.

Through several experiments, the birds were trained to identify the correct cup by remembering its location on the line. Then, in the test, the jays were given an unexpected memory assessment: they saw food being placed under one of the cups, all of which now had unique visual properties, but they were then separated from the cups for 10 minutes while the cups were moved and placed in Other places. Rearrange it.

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Despite changing the positions of the cups and the additional time delay, the birds still correctly identified the baited cup based on its visual characteristics 70% of the time.

These results suggest that although the visual differences between the cups were not important during training, the birds were able to notice those differences at test and remember them later, similar to episodic memory in humans.

This study suggests that episodic memory may help jays find food stores, and the researchers suggest that future studies may investigate whether birds are able to perform similar feats of memory in other, non-food-related scenarios.

The authors add: “Since seagulls were able to remember details that had no specific value or significance at the time the memory was created, this suggests that they are able to record, retrieve, and access episodic information within a remembered event. This is the ability Which characterizes the type of human memory through which we mentally “relive” past events (or Episodes) known as “episodic” memory.

About this memory research news

author: Hanna Abdullah
source: Plus
communication: Hanna Abdullah – Plus
picture: Image credited to Neuroscience News

Original search: Open access.
Eurasian Jays (Garrulusgandarius) exhibit episodic memory through episodic encoding of information“By James R. Davies et al. One plus


a summary

Eurasian Jays (Garrulusgandarius) exhibit episodic memory through episodic encoding of information

Episodic memory describes the conscious reconceptualization of our memories, and is often considered a uniquely human ability.

Since these phenomenological components are implicit in its definition, major issues arise when investigating the existence of episodic memory in non-human animals.

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But more importantly, when we as humans remember a particular experience, we may remember details from that experience that were not relevant to our needs, thoughts, or desires at the time.

However, this “episodic” information is automatically encoded as part of memory and later recalled within an overall representation of the event.

This episodic encoding and unexpected question paradigm represents a hallmark of human episodic memory and can be used to investigate memory recall in non-human animals.

However, without evidence of associated phenomena during recall, this type of memory is called “episodic.”-Likes memory’.

Using this approach, we tested seven Eurasian jays (Jarullus Ghadarius) on their ability to use incidental visual information (associated with “caches” made by the experimenter) to solve an unexpected memory test.

The birds’ performance was above chance levels, suggesting that Eurasian jays can encode, retain, retrieve, and access episodic visual information within a remembered event, an ability indicative of episodic memory in humans.

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