Divergence in problem-solving skills is associated with differential expression of glutamate receptors in wild finches.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Problem solving and innovation are key components of intelligence. We compare wild-caught individuals from two species that are close relatives of Darwin's finches, the innovative Loxigilla barbadensis, and its most closely related species in Barbados, the conservative Tiaris bicolor. We found an all-or-none difference in the problem-solving capacity of the two species. Brain RNA sequencing analyses revealed interspecific differences in genes related to neuronal and synaptic plasticity in the intrapallial neural populations (mesopallium and nidopallium), especially in the nidopallium caudolaterale, a structure functionally analogous to the mammalian prefrontal cortex. At a finer scale, we discovered robust differences in glutamate receptor expression between the species. In particular, the GRIN2B/GRIN2A ratio, known to correlate with synaptic plasticity, was higher in the innovative L. barbadensis. These findings suggest that divergence in avian intelligence is associated with similar neuronal mechanisms to that of mammals, including humans.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Audet, J-N; Kayello, L; Ducatez, S; Perillo, S; Cauchard, L; Howard, JT; O'Connell, LA; Jarvis, ED; Lefebvre, L

Published Date

  • March 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 4 / 3

Start / End Page

  • eaao6369 -

PubMed ID

  • 29546239

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5851658

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2375-2548

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1126/sciadv.aao6369


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States