For a truly comparative approach, our lab employs a wide variety of scientific tools and techniques to study cognition in an equally broad selection of species. On this page, you can find details about the specific species we study in our lab, as well as a sample of the methods we use.

Species
Equipment


Species

Clark's nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana)

Clark's nutcrackers

The Clark's nutcracker is a solitary species found throughout the Rocky Mountains.
Known for their seed-caching ability, we study these birds to understand spatial navigation,
as well as more general cognitive processes.

More details about the Clark's nutcracker can be found at the Cornell University page here.
Western scrub jays (Aphelocoma californica)

Scrub Jays

The Western scrub jay is a small corvid species native to North America.
We use these birds to study category learning, as well as cache protection and sociality.

More details about the western scrub jay can be found at the Cornell University page here.
Pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus)

Pinyon Jays

The pinyon jay is a small corvid species native to North America.
Like the Western scrub jay, we use these birds to study category learning,
as well as cache protection and sociality.

More details about the pinyon jay can be found at the Cornell University page here.
Black-billed magpies (Pica hudsonica)

Magpies

The magpie is a highly social corvid species. We use magpies to study a variety
of complex cognitive tasks, in part to see how their highly social nature influences
their behaviour and cognitive abilities, relative to some of our less social species.

More details about the black-billed magpie can be found here.
Pigeons (Columbia livia)

Pigeons

We have the capacity to breed and raise pigeons, allowing us to ask questions about cognition across the lifespan.
Mice (Mus musculus)

Mice

Much like the pigeon, the mouse is an extremely popular study species in comparative
cognition, due at least in part to its versatility in "Known-Down", "Knock-Out", and other
genetic manipulations. In our lab, we use mice to study some of the core, mechanistic
aspects of spatial navigation, including the expression of proteins within the brain
associated with learning in a spatial context. Our work is done primarily with C57Bl/6 mice, but more recently we have begun to investigate spatial cognition using 3x-Tg mouse models.
Dogs (Canis familiaris)

Dogs

Recently, studies to understand dog cognition has been on the rise. We are interested in several aspects of canine cognition, including nutritional impacts on cognition, inhibitory control, and human-dog interactions.



Equipment

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Operant Chambers

Operant Experiment Room

We have two rooms equipped to run operant experiments, one suitable for pigeons and another suitable for corvids. All operant chambers have a touchscreen monitor on the inside of the box, and automated food delivering systems.
Spatial Navigation

Caching Room

We have numerous rooms capable of studying spatial navigation on a variety of scales. Pictured to the left is our largest caching room, currently being used to study mid-scale navigation strategies in pigeons. The raised floor has a grid of 384 equally-spaced holes, which have been used on studies investigating caching behaviour and Travelling Salesman problems in Clark's nutcrackers. We also have numerous other rooms and apparatuses (including a rectangular version of the Morris water maze) capable of investigating spatial navigation on various scales using different species.

Neuromolecular Mechanisms

Neurosurgery Suite

We have the facilities on site to do dissection, tissue collection, and in vivo electrophysiological research. We have a -80°C freezer on site to store collected tissues.
Pigeon Development

Baby Pigeons

We have the capacity to breed and raise pigeons, allowing us to ask questions about development, nature, and nurture.