Spatial Memory and Orientation

Spatial Memory in Cowbirds
CowbirdsWe test subjects’ spatial memory and orientation with food searching tasks or with touchscreens. Food searching tasks involve behaviour that is more similar to the subjects’ natural behaviour, whereas touchscreens allow us to display limitless stimuli on the screen and collect data from hundreds of trials in a short amount of time. Our work on spatial versus colour memory in brown-headed cowbirds was featured on a national science documentary series, Découverte.

Spatial Memory in Horses
horse testingWe are currently investigating the extent to which horses use spatial working memory while foraging. It is established that horses are capable of retaining spatial information over long periods of time (reference memory), such as the location of water in a large foraging area. However, the extent to which horses use spatial information while foraging over a short period of time within a smaller patch is not know. We test horses on small scale foraging tasks in spatial arrays in order to characterize their search patterns and determine the contribution of to spatial working memory to their foraging behaviour.
Spatial Memory in Black-capped Chickadees
FoodStoringRoom1We investigate black-capped chickadee food-caching behavior in a lab setting. Chickadees cache seeds in branches provided by us with identified potential cache sites and then, after a period of time, cache retrieval is evaluated for accuracy. This accuracy is then used as a reflection of their spatial memory. We have used this technique to explore multiple spatial memory and hippocampus-related phenomena, such as memory consolidation and reconsolidation, hippocampal plasticity, and memory content associated with spatial locations.