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A bird's song may teach us about human speech disorders
Date:3/7/2012

erall, the scientists studied 20,000 genes in Area X (to determine which genes are involved in song) and outside of Area X (to learn which genes are involved in flying and perching).

"When we looked across the two parts of the basal ganglia Area X, which is important for song, and just outside of Area X, which is important for other behaviors we saw surprisingly similar overall levels of gene expression," White said. "There was no significant difference. It was just how those genes are changing relative to one another that was different."

There are approximately 9,000 species of birds, approximately half of which are songbirds. Dolphins, elephants and some bat species also mimic vocalizations, White said.

There are important similarities between the human brain and the songbird's brain.

"I'm very interested in human behavior," White said, "but humans are too complicated to study rigorously at the cellular and synaptic level. To study problems of speech, we need a model that specializes in learned sounds, like the songbird."

In future research, White's laboratory will study the role of reelin in the zebra finch and in mice. She and her colleagues will also continue to study FoxP2. She also plans to study hundreds of genes that move together.


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Contact: Stuart Wolpert
swolpert@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0511
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3 4

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