Differences in Hippocampal Volume among Food Storing Corvids

Jennifer A. Basil, Alan C. Kamil, Russell P. Balda, Katherine V. Fite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


The hippocampal complex (hippocampus and parahippocampalis) is known to play a role in spatial memory in birds and is known to be larger in food-storing versus non-storing birds. In the present study, we investigated the relative volume of the hippocampal complex in four food-storing corvids: gray-breasted jays (Aphelocoma ultramarina), scrub jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens), pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus), and Clark's nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana). The results show that Clark's nutcrackers have a larger hippocampal complex, relative to both body and total brain size, than the other three species. Clark's nutcrackers rely more extensively on stored food in the wild than the other three species. Clark's nutcrackers also perform better during cache recovery and operant tests of spatial memory than scrub jays. Thus, greater hippocampal volume is associated with better performance in laboratory tests of spatial memory and with stronger dependence on food stores in the wild.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-164
Number of pages9
JournalBrain, Behavior and Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Caching
  • Corvidae
  • Food-storing
  • Hippocampal complex
  • Hippocampus
  • Memory
  • Spatial memory
  • Volumetric analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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