Friday, December 02, 2005

Malnutrition and the Brain

From the December issue of The APA Monitor:
Feed the birds
Songbird study offers new insights into how malnutrition impairs development and cognition
By Rachel Adelson
The APA Monitor
December 2005
Print version: page 16

Slim postpartum pickings for young birds may stunt their brain growth and impede their ability to later remember where they store food. In fact, early deprivation may send adult birds into a downward spiral and thwart their survival, according to new research by Vladimir Pravosudov, PhD, of the University of Nevada, Reno, and Pierre Lavenex, PhD, and Alicja Omanska, PhD, of the University of California, Davis.

They studied the impact of early malnutrition on the western scrub-jay, a long-tailed, blue-feathered songbird. They underfed scrub-jay chicks. Then a year later, when these scrawny chicks grew up, they were worse off as adults than birds who ate better when young–even though the experimental group had caught up by then in weight. The experimental birds had smaller hippocampi with fewer neurons than the control birds and performed worse on spatial-memory tasks that required them to recover seeds they had cached away.
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Anthony H. Risser | |

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