Studies that have been published in recent years note that birds are able to perform complex tasks like the creation and use of tools, understanding of abstract concepts, and the recognition of specific patterns and models.
Scientists have been puzzled for a long time by the fact that the brain of birds lacks the presence of a neocortex, a region found in the mammalian brain which is responsible for the ability to plan, working memory, and the ability to solve problems.
A team of researchers has identified a curious structure of microcircuits in the brain of birds that might have the same abilities as the neocortex. A parallel study conducted by a different team has also tied the same structure to the presence of conscious thinking.
The similarities between avian and mammalian cognitive abilities have inspired the lead researcher of one of the two studies to investigate the avian forebrain, which handles perception. Despite the massive structural differences, both types of the brain can handle many cognitive skills, a fact which is quite interesting since many of them are complex.
The team used 3D polarized light imaging to analyze regions of brains collected from three homing pigeons. Observations of the forebrain region have revealed that it sports long fibers that are organized in a manner that is similar to structures found in the brains of rats and humans, a trait which means that the neuroarchitecture is similar instead of the structures themselves.
Tests made on trained carrion crows have also revealed that the conscious perception of stimuli will also take place In the pallia (forebrain) region. Such results prove that the brains of the crows are capable of sensory consciousness, marking a major breakthrough.
Both studies have been well-received in the scientific community and have been published in scientific journals.