Meeting Abstract

P2.164  Thursday, Jan. 5  The forgetful finch: Does developmental stress affect cognitive ability in zebra finches? DRISCOLL, S.C.*; CRINO, O.L.; BREUNER, C.W.; University of Montana; University of Montana; University of Montana stephanie.driscoll@umontana.edu

Developmental stress decreases song learning and associative learning in many passerines. The majority of studies have focused on the effects of nutritional stress (i.e. restricted food); however, few studies have examined the direct effects of glucocorticoids on learning. Using the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata ) as a model system, we examined how developmental stress affects adult cognitive function. We fed nestlings corticosterone (the dominant avian glucocorticoid) dissolved in peanut oil for 16 days during the nestling period (12- 28 days post-hatch). During this same period matched siblings received peanut oil. After reaching adulthood (60 days post-hatch), we measured cognitive function using an established foraging paradigm. Finches that solve the foraging paradigm in the fewest trials are considered superior learners. We found that finches exposed to CORT during development solve the foraging paradigm in fewer trials compared to control-treated siblings. This suggests that developmental stress has sustained effects on cognitive function into adulthood in zebra finches.