Washington, Jan 13 (ANI): It is known that sleep helps humans stabilize information and tasks learned during the preceding day. But now, researchers say the same is true of birds.
Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that sleep helps starlings remember how to perform a specific task.
The birds were trained to distinguish two five-second birdsong clips using what the researchers called a "go-no go" procedure.
When the "go" birdsong was played, the bird was given a food pellet if it poked its beak through a hole in its cage. When the "no go" song was played, the bird poking its beak through the hole didn't release a food pellet and caused the lights in the cage to briefly turn off.
Groups of starlings were trained in the task at different times of day and tested later to see how well they learned.
In all the groups, the birds' performance at the task improved after the birds slept.
"We really wanted to behaviourally show that these types of sleep-dependent memory benefits are occurring in animals," said graduate study and lead author Timothy Brawn.
"What was remarkable was that the pattern here looks very similar to what we see in humans. There wasn't anything that was terribly different," Brawn added.
Previous studies have shown that humans can perform a learned task better after a night's sleep. Brawn and his colleagues demonstrated this in a 2008 study involving people learning to play a first-person shooter game.
Other studies have shown that sleep pays an important role in allowing birds to learn new songs.
The researchers say their work will open new ways to study how the brain learns and retains information.
Daniel Margoliash, a professor of organismal biology, psychology and neuroscience at the University of Chicago, said: "The result suggests this is a very broad, general phenomenon that might be shared across a great many vertebrates."
The study appears in The Journal of Neuroscience. (ANI)