1 Tahrcountry Musings: Songbirds and 'hymn sheet'

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Songbirds and 'hymn sheet'

The mysteries of nature are myriad. Some makes you wonder with its complexities and nuances. A bird song might seem ordinary at first glance. Look at it from a scientist’s perspective and there is more in it than meets the eye.

Researchers studying bird songs have arrived at fascinating conclusions. Professor Richard Hahnloser and his team of researchers from the University of Zurich after extensive studies on Zebra Finch have come up with the conclusion that Songbirds learn to sing from a hymn sheet in their head. They believe that the birds have an internal recording that helps the birds to perfect singing. A separate region seems to enable the birds to identify mistakes in their songs. To arrive at the conclusions the researchers monitored the electrical activity of cells in the zebra finches brains. While some neurons were constantly active, other cells became active only when the birds made mistakes. It is these cells that enable the birds to learn from their errors. The researchers believe that their research could unravel the complexities of how humans learn to speak.

The details of research appears in the journal Science

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