Two previous experiments on food storing and one-trial associative learning in marsh tits (Clayton 1992a; Clayton and Krebs 1992) demonstrate that information coming into the brain from the left eye disappears from the left eye system between 3 and 24 h after memory formation, whereas that coming into the brain from the right eye remains stable within the right eye system for at least 51 h after memory formation. Performance after a 7 h retention interval appears to represent an intermediate stage in which the information is no longer accessible to the left eye system but is not yet available to the right eye system, suggesting a unilateral transfer of memory. The experiments reported here further investigated lateralization and unilateral transfer of memory in food-storing marsh tits, Parus palustris, using the technique of monocular occlusion. Birds were tested for their ability to retrieve stored seeds after retention intervals of 3, 7 and 24 h under 4 different occlusion treatments. Two predictions were tested: (a) with right eye occlusion during storage, birds should show better memory performance after 3 and 24 h than after 7 h and (b) memory should be more accurate when both eyes are used during storage than with monocular occlusion. The first prediction, which arises from the fact that memory is transferred from the left to the right eye system at about 7 h and is inaccessible during the transfer, was supported by the data. The second prediction, however, was not supported. Previous work has shown that in marsh tits the two eye systems remember preferentially different aspects of the stimulus: the left eye system responds to spatial position and the right eye system to object-specific cues. It is possible that the failure to find superior performance in binocular tests was because the task could be solved by either spatial or object-specific memory.
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Clayton, N.S., Krebs, J.R. Lateralization and unilateral transfer of spatial memory in marsh tits: are two eyes better than one?. J Comp Physiol A 174, 769–773 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00192726