Researchers Transplant Brain Cells Across Bird Species, Studying How to Grow Bigger Brains
The relatively sophisticated brain of a songbird has been transplanted into the body of a distantly related, less intelligent species. The study could help us understand how brains develop, perhaps opening the way to treating some brain conditions.
Since 2009, Chun-Chun Chen of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, has performed over 100 brain transplants in birds. In her latest study she transferred the cells destined to become the forebrain of zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) into Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) embryos, after removing the equivalent quail cells.
…After the transplant, the zebra finch brains grew faster than normal, and the cell density was lower. That suggests large brains do not simply grow under their own steam. “We think that there are some signals coming from the quail cells that are influencing how much the zebra finch brain cells can proliferate”
(via Chimeric birds could explain how brains get big - life - 06 August 2012 - New Scientist)