Birds have GPS inbuilt into their brains. They can turn it on and off like a switch
Researchers have explored a region of the brain known as cluster N that birds use to detect and process Earth’s magnetic field to travel long distances.
- Birds likely use magnetically sensitive proteins
- They can perceive Earth’s magnetic field
- They can turn it on or off like a switch
Earth’s magnetic field is known for protecting the planet and its inhabitants from the dangerous cosmic rays and plasma blasted off from the Sun. But this magnetic field is used innovatively by some animals for navigation like a GPS and they are capable of turning it on and off very flexibly.
A new study has now revealed that migratory birds have the ability to process or ignore magnetic information, just as we may attend to music when we are interested or tune it out when we are not, like a flick of the switch.
Researchers from the University of Western Ontario in Canada and Bowling Green State University in the US have explored a region of the brain known as cluster N that birds use to detect and process Earth’s magnetic field.