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Neural representations of space in the hippocampus of a food-caching bird

Cite this dataset

Payne, Hannah; Lynch, Galen; Aronov, Dmitriy (2021). Neural representations of space in the hippocampus of a food-caching bird [Dataset]. Dryad.


Spatial memory in vertebrates requires brain regions homologous to the mammalian hippocampus. Between vertebrate clades, however, these regions are anatomically distinct and appear to produce different spatial patterns of neural activity. We asked whether hippocampal activity is fundamentally different even between distant vertebrates that share a strong dependence on spatial memory. We studied tufted titmice, food-caching birds capable of remembering many concealed food locations. We found mammalian-like neural activity in the titmouse hippocampus, including sharp-wave ripples and anatomically organized place cells. In a non–food-caching bird species, spatial firing was less informative and was exhibited by fewer neurons. These findings suggest that hippocampal circuit mechanisms are similar between birds and mammals, but that the resulting patterns of activity may vary quantitatively with species-specific ethological needs.


Behavioral data was collected using an infrared-based motion capture system.

Electrophysiological recordings were collected with sharp electrodes and silicon probes. 

Raw data were spike sorted using Plexon Offline Sorter, and local field potentials were processed in Matlab.

Usage notes

Please see the Readme.txt file for a description of the datasets and code included with the software ( 


Helen Hay Whitney Foundation

New York Stem Cell Foundation, Award: Robertson Neuroscience Investigator Award

Beckman Young Investigator Award

National Cancer Institute, Award: DP2 AG071918-01 New Innovator Award

Beckman Young Investigator Award