Sleep loss impairs cognitive performance and alters song output in Australian magpies
journal contributionposted on 2022-05-09, 05:33 authored by Robin JohnssonRobin Johnsson, F Connelly, J Gaviraghi Mussoi, AL Vyssotski, KE Cain, TC Roth, John LeskuJohn Lesku
Sleep maintains optimal brain functioning to facilitate behavioural flexibility while awake. Owing to a historical bias towards research on mammals, we know comparatively little about the role of sleep in facilitating the cognitive abilities of birds. We investigated how sleep deprivation over the full-night (12 h) or half-night (6 h) affects cognitive performance in adult Australian magpies (Cracticus tibicen), relative to that after a night of undisturbed sleep. Each condition was preceded and followed by a baseline and recovery night of sleep, respectively. Prior to each treatment, birds were trained on an associative learning task; on the day after experimental treatment (recovery day), birds were tested on a reversal learning task. To glean whether sleep loss affected song output, we also conducted impromptu song recordings for three days. Ultimately, sleep-deprived magpies were slower to attempt the reversal learning task, less likely to perform and complete the task, and those that did the test performed worse than better-rested birds. We also found that sleep-deprived magpies sang longer yet fewer songs, shifted crepuscular singing to mid-day, and during the post-recovery day, song frequency bandwidth narrowed. These results collectively indicate that sleep loss impairs motivation and cognitive performance, and alters song output, in a social adult songbird.