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Why Birds are Smart

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Great apes like chimpanzees are smart and have a large neocortex. Birds like corvids and parrots have much smaller brains and no neocortex. This should cast a dim prospect on their cognitive abilities. But studies of the last two decades revealed there is not a single cognitive ability of chimpanzees with brain weights of ca. 400g that meanwhile was not also demonstrated in corvids with brains of just 12g. How is that possible? This can only be the case if complex cognition developed independently several times in animals with different brain organizations. In my talk I will take you on a scientific journey that aims to identify which neural features really seems to matter for complex cognition and are shared by apes, corvids, and parrots. Astoundingly, although bird and mammalian brains look so different, we will see that both independently evolved similar neural solutions to become smart. It is likely that evolution does not lack creativity; it is just facing a severe limitation of degrees of freedom when wiring a vertebrate brain for sophisticated cognition. As a result, it re-invents the wheel over and over again.


Onur Güntürkün (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)


Date and Time 28.11.23 - 18:00 - 19:30 Signup is not required

Location Tagungs- und Veranstaltungshaus Alte Mensa
Wilhelmsplatz 3
37073 Göttingen



Contact Dr. Christian Schloegl
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