The complexity of an animal's physical environment is known to affect the hippocampus. Captivity may affect hippocampal anatomy and this may be attributable to the limited opportunities for memory-based experiences. This has tangential support, in that differential demands on memory can mediate changes in the hippocampus. What remains unclear is whether captivity directly affects hippocampal architecture and whether providing memory-based experiences in captivity can maintain hippocampal attributes comparable to wild-caught conspecifics. Using food-caching mountain chickadees (Poecile gambeli), we found that wild-caught individuals had larger hippocampal volumes relative to the rest of the telencephalon than captive birds with or without memory-based food-caching experiences, whereas there were no differences in neuron numbers or telencephalon volume. Also, there were no significant differences in relative hippocampal volume or neuron numbers between the captive birds with or without memory-based experiences. Our results demonstrate that captivity reduces hippocampal volume relative to the remainder of the telencephalon, but not at the expense of neuron numbers. Further, memory-based experiences in captivity may not be sufficient to maintain hippocampal volume comparable to wild-caught counterparts.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Behavioral Neuroscience