Photo: Cardinal Grosbeak (a songbird) from Audubon's Birds of America
What happens when a bird-lover in Hudson Valley NY obsesses over bird calls? In this case, he happens to come up with an intriguing theory about how humans can actually grow new brain cells instead of lose them when they get older.
As Argentine-born scientist Fernando Nottebohm was studying bird calls, he found that some of his little, feathered subjects were still able to retain information about using these calls even later in life. This would seem to contradict the theory that animals keep losing brain cells as their lives go on, which may apply to humans too (which is good news to those of us worried about losing our marbles). While there are some skeptics in the scientific community, Nottebohm's theories are getting recognition and respect.
We can only hope that this will lead to some kind of development of brain cells to help us remember where we put our keys…
See this article in Smithsonian Magazine for more details about Nottebohm's research.