Navigation Links
Migratory songbirds have a specialized night-vision brain area

Neurobiologists have discovered a specialized night-vision brain area in night-migratory songbirds. They believe the area might enable the birds to navigate by the stars, and to visually detect the earth's magnetic field through photoreceptor molecules, whose light-sensitivity is modulated by the field.

The researchers published their findings May 23, 2005, in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The collaboration was led by Henrik Mouritsen of the University of Oldenberg in Germany and Erich Jarvis of the Duke University Medical Center. Other co-authors were Gesa Feenders and Miriam Liedvogel in Mouritsen's laboratory and Kazuhiro Wada in Jarvis's laboratory. The research was supported by the VolkswagenStiftung to Mouritsen and the National Science Foundation's Waterman Award to Jarvis.

To migrate successfully over thousands of miles at night, night-migratory birds need to see where they fly, as well as navigate by stars and the earth's magnetic field. Surprisingly, Jarvis said, recent scientific evidence has suggested that birds have specialized molecules in their visual system that translate magnetic compass information into visual patterns. Thus, , the researchers hypothesized that night migratory birds would need a specialized night-vision brain area.

"There was no evidence of such a specialized region in night migratory birds before we began this research," Jarvis said.

In their study, the researchers compared two species of night-migratory songbirds -- garden warblers and European robins -- with two non-migratory songbirds -- zebra finches and canaries.

Using a transparent cylindrical cage in Mouritsen's laboratory, they first accustomed the birds to the illumination equivalent of moonlight. They waited until the birds were sitting quietly to eliminate brain activity from movement. The researchers then quickly preserved the birds' brains, and in Jarvis's laboratory analyzed the brain structures for the active expression of two genes called ZENK and c-fos that signal activity in a particular brain region.

The researchers found that the night-migratory species showed strikingly high activity in a particular cluster of cells located adjacent to a known visual pathway. According to Jarvis, what excited the researchers was that the area, which they named Cluster N, was not active in the migratory birds during the daytime. Furthermore, non-migratory songbirds did not show strong activation in the Cluster N even under moonlight conditions.

To determine whether the brain cluster is really specialized for night-vision, the researchers performed the same gene expression analysis on the night-migratory songbird species with the birds' eyes covered. The researchers found that blocking night-time vision dramatically reduced gene activity in cluster N.

"This result confirmed that night-migratory birds seem to have a brain area specifically adapted for seeing during their night-time flight," Jarvis said. The researchers suspect that the newly discovered brain region could be involved in processing and integrating light-dependent magnetic compass information and star compass information; and thus may be responsible for the impressive navigational abilities of birds migrating during the night. In future studies, Jarvis, Mouritsen and their colleagues plan to test this hypothesis in more detail, they said.


'"/>

Source:Duke University Medical Center


Related biology news :

1. Displaced songbirds navigate in the high Arctic
2. Bats prey on nocturnally migrating songbirds
3. Personality-gene makes songbirds curious
4. UCSD team discovers specialized, rare heart stem cells in newborns
5. Controversial drug shown to act on brain protein to cut alcohol use
6. Mouse brain cells rapidly recover after Alzheimers plaques are cleared
7. Mouse brain tumors mimic those in human genetic disorder
8. New imaging method gives early indication if brain cancer therapy is effective, U-M study shows
9. First atlas of key brain genes could speed research on cancer, neurological diseases
10. NYU study reveals how brains immune system fights viral encephalitis
11. Stem cells from brain transformed to produce insulin at Stanford
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/7/2016)... June 7, 2016  Syngrafii Inc. and San ... relationship that includes integrating Syngrafii,s patented LongPen™ eSignature ... This collaboration will result in greater convenience for ... union, while maintaining existing document workflow and compliance ... ...
(Date:6/1/2016)... June 1, 2016 Favorable Government ... Administration and Criminal Identification to Boost Global Biometrics System ... released TechSci Research report, " Global Biometrics Market ... Forecast and Opportunities, 2011 - 2021", the global biometrics ... 2021, on account of growing security concerns across various ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... Elevay is currently known as ... for high net worth professionals seeking travel for work ... world, there is still no substitute for a face-to-face ... your deal with a firm handshake. This is why ... of citizenship via investment programs like those offered by ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016   EpiBiome , a precision microbiome engineering ... debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). The financing ... advance its drug development efforts, as well as purchase ... "SVB has been an incredible strategic partner to us ... bank would provide," said Dr. Aeron Tynes Hammack ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... In a new case report published today in ... patient who developed lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from an injection ... for dealing with this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... Review, 2016;12(1):22-8 http://doi.org/10.17925/OHR.2016.12.01.22 Published ... the peer-reviewed journal from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D ... cost of cancer care is placing an increasing ... of expensive biologic therapies. With the patents on ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Regulatory Compliance Associates® Inc. (RCA), ... free webinar on Performing Quality Investigations: Getting to Root Cause. ... no charge. , Incomplete investigations are still a major concern to the Regulatory ...
Breaking Biology Technology: