Navigation Links
Discovery helps to unlock brain's speech-learning mechanism
Date:9/4/2013

USC scientists have discovered a population of neurons in the brains of juvenile songbirds that are necessary for allowing the birds to recognize the vocal sounds they are learning to imitate.

These neurons encode a memory of learned vocal sounds and form a crucial (and hitherto only theorized) part of the neural system that allows songbirds to hear, imitate, and learn its species' songs just as human infants acquire speech sounds.

This discovery will allow scientists to uncover the exact neural mechanisms that allow songbirds to hear their own self-produced songs, compare them to the memory of the song that they are trying to imitate, and then adjust their vocalizations accordingly.

This brain-behavior system is thought to be a model for how human infants learn to speak, so understanding it could prove crucial to future understanding and treatment of language disorders in children. In both songbirds and humans, feedback of self-produced vocalizations is compared to memorized vocal sounds and progressively refined to achieve a correct imitation.

"Every neurodevelopmental disorder you can think of including Tourette syndrome, autism, and Rett syndrome entails in some way a breakdown in auditory processing and vocal communication. Understanding mechanisms of vocal learning at a cellular level is a huge step toward being able to someday address the biological issues behind the behavioral issues," said Sarah Bottjer, senior author of an article on the research that appears in the Journal of Neuroscience on Sept. 4.

Bottjer collaborated with lead author Jennifer Achiro, a graduate student at USC, to examine the activity of neurons in songbirds brains using electrodes to record the activity of individual neurons.

In the basal gangliaa complex system of neurons in the brain responsible for, among other things, procedural learningBottjer and Achiro were able to isolate two different types of neurons in young songbirds: ones that were activated only when the birds heard themselves singing, and others that were activated only when the birds heard the songs of adult birds that they were trying to imitate.

The two sets of neurons allow the songbirds to recognize both their current behavior and a goal behavior that they would like to achieve.

"The process of learning speech requires the brain to compare feedback of current vocal behavior to a memory of target vocal sounds," Achiro said. "The discovery of these two distinct populations of neurons means that this brain region contains separate neural representation of current and goal behaviors. Now, for the first time, we can test how these two neural representations are compared so that correct matches between the two are somehow rewarded."

The next step for scientists will be to learn how the brain rewards correct matches between feedback of current vocal behavior and the goal memory that depicts memorized vocal sounds as songbirds make progress in bringing their current behavior closer to their goal behavior, Bottjer said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Robert Perkins
perkinsr@usc.edu
213-740-9226
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Discovery of a molecule that initiates maturation of mammalian eggs can lead to more IVF pregnancies
2. Annual Drug Discovery Conferences Being Held in Boston MA, Spring 2012
3. Discovery provides blueprint for new drugs that can inhibit hepatitis C virus
4. Unexpected discovery reveals a new mechanism for how the cerebellum extracts signal from noise
5. Discovery offers insight into treating viral stomach flu
6. Breast cancer risk gene discovery fast tracked by new technology
7. Tales from the crypt lead researchers to cancer discovery
8. New discovery may lead to effective prevention and treatment of graft-versus-host dsease
9. Stomata development in plants unraveled -- a valuable discovery for environmental research
10. Discovery reveals chromosomes organize into yarns
11. Bacteria discovery could lead to antibiotics alternatives
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/1/2016)... MELBOURNE, Fla. , Feb. 1, 2016  Wocket® smart wallet ( ... actor and television personality, Joey Fatone . Las ... and greet fans. --> Las Vegas , ... --> The new video ad was filmed at the ... Joey appeared at the Wocket booth to meet and greet fans. ...
(Date:1/25/2016)... 2016   Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS ) today ... (JFK) International Airport, New York City , to ... attempting to enter the United States using ... pilot testing of the system at Dulles last year. ... JFK during January 2016. --> pilot testing of ...
(Date:1/22/2016)... http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/p74whf/global_biometrics ) ... "Global Biometrics Market in Retail Sector 2016-2020" ... --> http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/p74whf/global_biometrics ) has announced the ... in Retail Sector 2016-2020" report to ... and Markets ( http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/p74whf/global_biometrics ) has announced ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/4/2016)... New FDA action date of July 22, ... July 22, 2016   --> - ... - Lifitegrast has the potential to be the only ... signs and symptoms of dry eye disease in adults --> ... approved in the U.S. in the past decade indicated for the treatment of ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... Church, VA (PRWEB) , ... ... ... first-year cybersecurity conference presented by Bloomsburg University’s Digital Forensics Club, takes place ... PA. The two-day event features 20+ speakers and activities such as workshops ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... VANCOUVER, British Columbia and MENLO PARK, ... Inc. (OTCQX: DMPI) ("DelMar" and the "Company"), a biopharmaceutical ... therapies, today announced that it will present at the ... on Monday, February 8, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. EST in ... Jeffrey Bacha , DelMar,s president and CEO, will provide an ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... , Feb. 4, 2016  Spherix Incorporated (Nasdaq: ... the fostering and monetization of intellectual property, today provided ... Uniden in the Northern District of Texas ... forward.  Inter Partes Re-examination ("IPR") ... Patent Office.  The IPR was initiated on only certain ...
Breaking Biology Technology: