Corvids optimize working memory by categorizing continuous stimuli

Aylin Apostel, Matthew Panichello, Timothy J. Buschman, Jonas Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Working memory (WM) is a crucial element of the higher cognition of primates and corvid songbirds. Despite its importance, WM has a severely limited capacity and is vulnerable to noise. In primates, attractor dynamics mitigate the effect of noise by discretizing continuous information. Yet, it remains unclear whether similar dynamics are seen in avian brains. Here, we show jackdaws (Corvus monedula) have similar behavioral biases as humans; memories are less precise and more biased as memory demands increase. Model-based analysis reveal discrete attractors are evenly spread across the stimulus space. Altogether, our comparative approach suggests attractor dynamics in primates and corvids mitigate the effect of noise by systematically drifting towards specific attractors. By demonstrating this effect in an evolutionary distant species, our results strengthen attractor dynamics as general, adaptive biological principle to efficiently use WM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1122
JournalCommunications Biology
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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