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Department of Zoology



After completing a PhD in neurophysiology, on mechanisms of induction of long-term changes in neuronal activity in the mammalian cerebral cortex, I held postdoctoral posts at Cambridge and Bristol Medical School, before becoming Senior Assistant in Research, Assistant Director of Research and University Lecturer in the Department of Zoology at Cambridge. Most of my career has been spent analysing neural mechanisms of learning and memory associated with filial imprinting in the chick, using behavioural, physiological, histological and biochemical techniques. I was Director of the Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour from 2010 until my retirement in 2014. I continue to work in the field of behavioural neuroscience and welcome correspondence.


The neural mechanisms of learning and memory, particularly imprinting in the domestic chick. The young of many species, when exposed to a conspicuous object (an imprinting stimulus), rapidly learn the object's characteristics and subsequently narrow their social preferences to it. This learning process is called imprinting, the study of which has yielded important insights into the nature of learning and memory. A part of the chick forebrain (the IMM) has been identified that is critical for imprinting. The available evidence indicates that the IMM is a site of memory for features of the imprinting stimulus. The characteristics of the IMM, and the system of which it is a part, continue to be a major research interest.


Key publications: 

McCabe BJ (2022) Neural mechanisms of imprinting. Encyclopedia of Behavioral Neuroscience, Second Edition, Elsevier, Oxford. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-809324-5.23954-0, ISBN 978-0-12-821636-1

Meparishvili M, Chitadze L, Lagani V, McCabe B & Solomonia R (2021). Src and memory: a study of filial imprinting and predispositions in the domestic chick. Front Physiol 12 doi: 10.3389/fphys.2021.736999

Chitadze L, Margvelani G, Meparishvili M, Tsverava L, Mikautadze E, Kikvidze M, Lagani V, McCabe BJ & Solomonia R (2020) Chicken cognin interactome and the memory of filial imprinting. NeuroReport 31:399-405 doi 10.1097/WNR.0000000000001417

McCabe BJ (2019) Visual Imprinting in Birds: Behavior, Models, and Neural Mechanisms. Front Physiol 10:658 doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00658

Margvelani G, Meparishvili M, Kiguradze T, McCabe BJ & Solomonia R (2018b) Micro-RNAs, their target proteins, predispositions and the memory of filial imprinting. Scientific Reports 8 doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-35097-w.

Margvelani G, Meparishvili M, Tevdoradze E, McCabe BJ & Solomonia RO (2018a) Mitochondrial fusion and fission proteins and the recognition memory of imprinting in domestic chicks. NeuroReport 29: 128-133.

McCabe BJ (2017) Pharmacological agents and electrophysiological techniques. In Lateralized Brain Functions: Methods in Human and Non-Human SpeciesEds Rogers LJVallortigara G1, 122: 251-276. Springer New York, New York, NY.

Meparishvili M, Nozadze M, Margvelani G, McCabe BJ & Solomonia RO (2015)  A proteomic study of memory after imprinting in the domestic chick. Front Behav Neurosci 9:319 doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00319

Solomonia RO & McCabe BJ (2015) Molecular mechanisms of memory in imprinting. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 50:56-69 doi:10.1016/j.neurobiorev.2014.09.013

McCabe BJ (2013) Imprinting. WIREs Cogn Sci 4: 375-390 doi:10.102/wcs.1231

Solomonia RO, Meparishvili M, Mikautadze E, Kunelauri N, Apkhazava D & McCabe BJ (2013) AMPA receptor phosphorylation and recognition memory: learning-related, time-dependent changes in the chick brain following filial imprinting. Exp Brain Research 226:297-308 doi:10.1007/s00221-013-3435-2

Town SM & McCabe BJ (2011) Neuronal Plasticity and Multisensory Integration in Filial Imprinting. PLoS ONE 6, e17777 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017777

Solomonia RO, Kunelauri N, Mikautadze E, Apkhazava D, McCabe BJ & Horn G (2011) Mitochondrial proteins, learning and memory: biochemical specialization of a memory system. Neuroscience 194:112-123 doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.07.053

Suge R, Kato H & McCabe BJ (2010) Rapid induction of the immediate early gene c-fos in a chick forebrain system involved in memory. Exp Brain Res 200:183-188 doi:10.1007/s00221-009-2006-z

Jackson C, McCabe BJ, Nicol AU, Grout AS , Brown MW & Horn G (2008) Dynamics of a memory trace: effects of sleep on consolidation. Curr Biol 18:393-400 doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.01.062 [see also Stickgold R (2008) Sleep: the ebb and flow of memory consolidation. Curr Biol 18:R423-R425 doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.03.022]

Solomonia RO, Apkhazava D, Nozadze M, Jackson AP, McCabe BJ & Horn G (2008) Different forms of MARCKS protein are involved in memory formation in the learning process of imprinting. Exp Brain Res 188:323-330


Other publications: 

Suge, R, Nicol AU & McCabe BJ (2018) Fos-like immunoreactivity during sleep in a chick forebrain memory system after filial imprinting. FENS Proceedings, Berlin.

McCabe BJ (2017) Sir Patrick Bateson (1938–2017). Science 358:174 doi:10.1126/science.aap9754

Solomonia RO, Kotorashvili A, Kiguradze T, McCabe BJ & Horn G (2005) Ca2+/calmodulin protein kinase II and memory: learning-related changes in a localized region of the domestic chick brain. J Physiol (London) 569: 643-653

Meredith RM, McCabe BJ, Kendrick KM & Horn G (2004) Amino acid neurotransmitter release and learning: a study of visual imprinting. Neuroscience, 126:249-256

Suge R & McCabe BJ (2004) Early stages of memory formation in filial imprinting: Fos-like immunoreactivity and behavior in the domestic chick. Neuroscience, 123:847-856

Solomonia RO, Morgan K, Kotorashvili A, McCabe BJ, Jackson AP, Horn G (2003) Analysis of differential gene expression supports a role for amyloid precursor protein and a protein kinase C substrate (MARCKS) in long-term memory. Eur J Neurosci, 17:1073-1081

McCabe BJ, Kendrick KM, Horn G (2001) Gamma-aminobutyric acid, taurine and learning: release of amino acids from slices of chick brain following filial imprinting.Neuroscience, 105:317-324


University Lecturer (retired)

Contact Details

Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour, Madingley
01223 (7)47313


Person keywords: 
quantitative behaviour
Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
in vivo physiology