Hippocampus lesions impair landmark array spatial learning in homing pigeons: A laboratory study

Antony R. White, Rosemary Strasser, Verner P. Bingman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Hippocampal (HF)-lesioned pigeons display impaired homing ability when flying over familiar terrain, where they are presumably relying on a map-like representation of familiar landmarks to navigate. However, research carried out in the field precludes a direct test of whether hippocampal lesions compromise the ability of homing pigeons to navigate by familiar landmarks. To examine more thoroughly the relationship between hippocampus and landmark spatial learning, control, neo-striatum-lesioned, and HF-lesioned homing pigeons were trained on two open field, laboratory, conditional discrimination tasks. One was a visual landmark array task, and the other was a room color discrimination task. For the tasks, the correct of three differently colored food bowls was determined by the spatial relationship among a group of five landmarks and room color, respectively. Intact control birds successfully learned both tasks, while neostriatum-lesioned birds successfully learned the landmark array task - the only task on which they were trained. By contrast, HF-lesioned birds successfully learned the room color task but were unable to learn the landmark array task. The data support the hypothesis that homing performance deficits observed in the field following hippocampal lesions are in part a consequence of an impairment in the ability of lesioned pigeons to use familiar visual landmarks for navigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-78
Number of pages14
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Birds
  • Cognitive map
  • Hippocampal formation
  • Memory
  • Spatial relational

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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