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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Dr Sally Street

Hall, Z.J., Street, S.E. & Healy, S.D. (2013). The evolution of cerebellum structure correlates with nest complexity. Biology Letters 9(6): 20130687.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Across the brains of different bird species, the cerebellum varies greatly in the amount of surface folding (foliation). The degree of cerebellar foliation is thought to correlate positively with the processing capacity of the cerebellum, supporting complex motor abilities, particularly manipulative skills. Here, we tested this hypothesis by investigating the relationship between cerebellar foliation and species-typical nest structure in birds. Increasing complexity of nest structure is a measure of a bird's ability to manipulate nesting material into the required shape. Consistent with our hypothesis, avian cerebellar foliation increases as the complexity of the nest built increases, setting the scene for the exploration of nest building at the neural level.