Rado Seminar - Cecilia Baldoni -The effect of brain size on cognitive performance of the common shrew (Sorex araneus)

Rado Seminar Series

  • Date: Nov 26, 2021
  • Time: 10:30 - 11:30
  • Speaker: Cecilia Baldoni
  • Room: Online
  • Host: Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior
  • Contact: cavolio@ab.mpg.de
Rado Seminar - Cecilia Baldoni -The effect of brain size on cognitive performance of the common shrew (<i>Sorex araneus</i>)
Animals living in temperate climate zones have evolved several strategies to cope with seasonal variation in temperature and resources. One of the most interesting and poorly understood overwintering strategy is the Dehnel’s Phenomenon, in which some small mammals undergo a programmed decrease in body size, bone structures, and mass of internal organs between summer and winter, followed by a partial regrowth from winter to spring. The most astounding change occurs in the brain, that can decrease in volume up to 20% from summer to winter, and increase up to 10% from winter to spring. The reversible reduction of energetically costly tissues, such as the brain, leads to reduced food demands during periods with low resources, but is likely to cause cognitive compromises. The common shrew (Sorex araneus) is considered the model species of this phenomenon. Previous studies on this species have shown that summer juveniles are faster in solving a spatial navigation task than winter subadults. However, more studies are needed to better understand the link between variation in brain size and cognitive performance. Using MRI scans, I will follow individual changes in brain size and organisation in a captive population of common shrews, and investigate the effect of individual variation of brain size to their cognitive performance.
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