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← Neurons in Bird Brains Encode Earth's Magnetic Field

Neurons in Bird Brains Encode Earth's Magnetic Field - Comments

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 1 by Neodarwinian

I wonder what will happen when the magnetic field reverses? If through evolution would there be a selective pressure period? Brain plasticity? That last one, plasticity, requires further thought.

Wed, 02 May 2012 18:50:34 UTC | #939095

Roedy's Avatar Comment 2 by Roedy

Given how the magnetic field of earth wanders around so much, there is likely some method for reprogramming it. The details of how that works would be even more fascinating.

Wed, 02 May 2012 19:35:11 UTC | #939112

GreatWhiteShark's Avatar Comment 3 by GreatWhiteShark

Comment 1 by Neodarwinian :

I wonder what will happen when the magnetic field reverses? If through evolution would there be a selective pressure period? Brain plasticity? That last one, plasticity, requires further thought.

But arent these recpetors using the field as an indicator for direction, rather than a map? Forgive me if I am ignorant.

Wed, 02 May 2012 19:53:14 UTC | #939118

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 4 by Neodarwinian

@ GreatWhiteShark

I meant North becoming South, or the other way around. You may have to forgive my ignorance here!

Wed, 02 May 2012 22:40:34 UTC | #939179

GreatWhiteShark's Avatar Comment 5 by GreatWhiteShark

Comment 3 by GreatWhiteShark :

Comment 1 by Neodarwinian :

But arent these recpetors using the field as an indicator for direction, rather than a map? Forgive me if I am ignorant.

Comment 4 by Neodarwinian :

@ GreatWhiteShark

I meant North becoming South, or the other way around. You may have to forgive my ignorance here!

Forgiving and ignorant, how very Christian of us!

Thu, 03 May 2012 01:22:03 UTC | #939227

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 6 by SaganTheCat

you could learn to read a map upside down i'm sure

Thu, 03 May 2012 10:58:49 UTC | #939306

jbkaffe's Avatar Comment 7 by jbkaffe

Forgiving and ignorant, how very Christian of us!

Amen to that. ;-)

Thu, 03 May 2012 20:20:46 UTC | #939427

rationalmind's Avatar Comment 8 by rationalmind

I think the problem of field direction reversal is not insurmountable. It is quite likely that the pigeons use other clues as well as a magnetic sense, for example the position of the sun and how that varies.

It may well be like those experiments where they made someone wear a device that turns vision upside down. (The back of the eye normally receives an upside down image anyway and the brain corrects it.) After a short while their brain adapted to see normally. It may well be that the same kind of factors would work with magnetism, that is to say there is a way for the bird to generally know where north and south are and the brain adapts to refine this using the magnetic sense. Therefore, the polarity of the field isn't really relevant just like the upside down or right side up images in the eye.

Mon, 07 May 2012 12:50:58 UTC | #940291