Cognition-Oxidative Stress-Fitness

The role of oxidative stress and dietary antioxidants in linking cognitive traits and fitness in free living great tits

Whether variations in cognitive abilities are causally linked to reproductive success or whether a third variable (such as ageing) is involved is currently unknown, which is a major knowledge gap in our understanding about how cognition can help animals to adapt to their changing environments. For this project, supported by a Marie-Curie postdoctoral fellowship, we investigate the role of senescence and oxidative stress in shaping the link between cognitive abilities and fitness along the life course of an individual in natural populations.

To do so, I am using the long-term databases on breeding and cognitive performances to explore the role of chronological age and oxidative stress (biological age) on cognitive performances in wild great tits. I also implemented field experiments to supplemment breeding pairs and chicks with dietary antioxidants during several breeding seasons, and test the causal role of dietary antioxidants provided early in life and at adulthood in shaping cognitive performance and fitness. Using blood samples, we will carry measures on frozen red blood cell and plasma samples to gather information on enzymatic,non-enzymatic antioxidant defences and oxidative damage on proteins, lipids and DNA.

Stay tuned, results are exciting !!!