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Age-related reductions in whole brain mass and telencephalon volume in very old white Carneau pigeons (Columba livia).

Neuroscience Letters 2024 March 30
While studies have identified age-related cognitive impairment in pigeons (Columba livia), no study has detected the brain atrophy which typically accompanies cognitive impairment in older mammals. Instead, Coppola and Bingman (Aging is associated with larger brain mass and volume in homing pigeons (Columba livia), Neurosci. Letters 698 (2019) 39-43) reported increased whole brain mass and telencephalon volume in older, compared to younger, homing pigeons. One reason for this unexpected finding might be that the older pigeons studied were not old enough to display age-related brain atrophy. Therefore, the current study repeated Coppola and Bingman, but with a sample of older white Carneau pigeons that were on average 5.34 years older. Brains from young and old homing pigeons were weighed and orthogonal measurements of the telencephalon, cerebellum, and optic tectum were obtained. Despite having a heavier body mass than younger pigeons, older pigeons had a significant reduction in whole brain mass and telencephalon volume, but not cerebellum or optic tectum volume. This study is therefore the first to find that pigeons experience age-related brain atrophy.

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