Researchers study pigeon flight to understand human brains

If you look up at the right spot at Baylor College of Medicine, you might see glimpses of an unusual structure for a health science university – a pigeon coop.

These pigeons aren’t on campus as a hobby for students. Instead, they’re part of a research project that aims to understand how humans navigate through the world.

“Pigeons have sort of a built-in GPS that uses the Earth’s magnetic field to help them navigate. By studying the mechanisms in their brains that are triggered during flight, it could lead to a better understanding of the human brain in diseases like Alzheimer’s, where people often lose their sense of orientation, and may also have practical, technological applications,” said postdoctoral associate Nele Lefeldt, who is leading the project in the lab of Dr. David Dickman, professor of neuroscience at Baylor.

See the birds in flight and learn more about how the research is conducted.

Read more about the project.

-By Andy Phifer

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