Correlations between differences in animal behavior and brain structures have been used to infer function of those structures. Brain region size has especially been suggested to be important for an animal's behavioral capability, controlled by specific brain regions. The oval nucleus of the mesopallium (MO) is part of the anterior forebrain vocal learning pathway in the parrot brain. Here, we compare brain volume and total number of neurons in MO of three parrot species (the peach-fronted conure, Eupsittula aurea, the peach-faced lovebird, Agapornis roseicollis, and the budgerigar, Melopsittacus undulatus), relating the total neuron numbers with the vocal response to playbacks of each species. We find that individuals with the highest number of neurons in MO had the shortest vocal latency. The peach-fronted conures showed the shortest vocal latency and largest number of MO neurons, the peach-faced lovebird had intermediary levels of both, and the budgerigar had the longest latency and least number of neurons. These findings indicate the MO nucleus as one candidate region that may be part of what controls the vocal capacity of parrots.
- Neuron number
- Oval nucleus of the mesopallium
- Vocal learning