Brain plasticity and adult neurogenesis may play a role in many ecologically important processes including mate recognition, song learning and production, and spatial memory processing. In a number of species, both physical and social environments appear to influence attributes (e.g., volume, neuron number, and neurogenesis) of particular brain regions. The hippocampus in particular is well known to be especially sensitive to such changes. Although social grouping in many taxa includes the formation of male and female pairs, most studies of the relationship between social environment and the hippocampus have typically considered only solitary animals and those living in samesex groups. Thus, the aim of this study was to compare the volume of the hippocampal formation, the total number of hippocampal neurons, and the number of immature neurons in the hippocampus (as determined by doublecortin expression) in mountain chickadees (Poecile gambeli) housed in groups of males and females, male - female pairs, same sex pairs of either males or females, and as solitary individuals. The different groups were visually and physically, but not acoustically, isolated from each other. We found no significant differences between any of our groups in hippocampal volume, the total number of hippocampal neurons, or the number of immature neurons. Our results thus provided no support to the hypothesis that social group composition and/or size have an effect on hippocampal morphology and neurogenesis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience