Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 174, Issue 3, pp 371–379 | Cite as

Memory for spatial and object-specific cues in food-storing and non-storing birds

  • N. S. Clayton
  • J. R. Krebs


Two storer/non-storer pairs of species, marsh tit (Parus palustris)/blue tit (P. caeruleus) and jay (Garrulus glandarius)/jackdaw (Corvus monedula) were compared on a one-trial associative memory task. In phase I of a trial birds searched for a reward in one of four feeders which differed in their trial-unique spatial location and object-specific cues. Following a retention interval, the birds had to return to the same feeder to obtain a further reward. In control trials the array of feeders was unaltered, whilst in dissociation tests it was transformed to separate spatial location and object-specific cues.

In control trials there was no difference in performance between species. In dissociation tests, the two storing species went first to the correct spatial location and second to the correct object-specific cues, whereas the two non-storing species went first with equal probability to the correct spatial and local object cues.

Monocular occlusion was used to investigate differences between the two eye-systems. In control trials there was no effect of occlusion. In dissociation trials, all 4 species preferentially returned to the feeder with the correct object-specific cue when the left eye had been covered in phase I and to the feeder in the correct spatial position when the right eye had been covered in phase I.

These results suggest that (a) food-storing birds differ from non-storers in responding preferentially to spatial information and (b) in storers and non-storers the right eye system shows a preference for object-specific cues and the left eye system for spatial cues.

Key words

Memory Spatial and object-specific cues Food-storing birds Hemispheric specialization 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. S. Clayton
    • 1
  • J. R. Krebs
    • 1
  1. 1.Edward Grey Institute, Department of ZoologyOxford UniversityOxfordUK

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