Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pigeons may ‘hear’ magnetic fields : Nature News & Comment

Pigeons may ‘hear’ magnetic fields : Nature News: Individual neurons in birds' brains can relay crucial information about Earth’s magnetic field...

For their latest research, the subject of today's Science paper, Wu and Dickman restrained seven homing pigeons (Columba livia) and placed them in a dark room. A magnetic field was created to cancel Earth’s field, and the researchers then monitored the birds’ brain activity while creating and rotating carefully controlled artificial magnetic fields around the pigeons.

The authors found that vestibular neurons — which are linked to balance systems in the inner ear — fired differentially in response to alterations in the field’s direction, intensity and polarity, and that these cells were especially sensitive to the bandwith that covers Earth’s geo-magnetic field...

“I would say now there are three potential places where magnetoreceptors may rest...”  These are the beak, the eyes and the ears.

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