Navigation Links
Size matters: Length of songbirds’ playlists linked to brain region proportions
Date:9/18/2011

Call a bird "birdbrained" and they may call "fowl." Cornell University researchers have proven that the capacity for learning in birds is not linked to overall brain size, but to the relative size and proportion of their specific brain regions.

Songbirds with upper brain regions that are larger in relation to lower regions have a greater capacity for learning songs. Higher brain areas control the majority of cognitive and learning functions, while lower brain areas control more motor functions, according to the new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research shows that when a bird's higher cortex-like brain area called the high vocal center (HVC) is larger relative to the lower brain area called RA, or if the RA is large relative to an even lower area called N12, the species is able to learn dozens of different notes. Such species as mockingbirds, catbirds, European blackbirds and European warblers can learn hundreds of notes because they have those relative size differences in both sets of areas.

"HVC size by itself only modestly predicts capacity for song learning, but relative size is a very strong predictor," said Tim DeVoogd, professor of psychology and of neurobiology and behavior and the paper's senior author. Jordan Moore, a graduate student in DeVoogd's lab, was the paper's lead author. "Our work is the first to demonstrate a basic principle of evolution using a specific behavior having greater cortical control of brain function gives greater behavioral flexibility, including enhanced learning."

In bird species with great capacities for song learning, higher brain areas likely became built up over lower areas as a result of sexual selection, he said, where females mated with males that had more elaborate songs. Repeated over millions of generations, the structure of the brains of these species changed such that higher brain areas became larger relative to lower areas.

The research suggests that relative brain area sizes may offer a mechanism by which a prominent form of evolution has worked. In birds and perhaps in humans, selection for increased learning capacity may have acted by prolonging the development of the last parts of the brain to grow. Humans are able to speak and to set and achieve complex goals because of prolonged development of higher brain areas, such as the cortex and frontal cortex in particular. These areas of the brain are the last to mature and do not fully develop until humans are in their early 20s, DeVoogd said.

In the study, the researchers collected three males each from 49 common species representing an extensive variety of songbirds from the United States, Europe and South Africa, where each bird was actively singing to attract females as part of his reproductive cycle. They then examined and measured the brain areas.


'/>"/>
Contact: Syl Kacapyr
vpk6@cornell.edu
607-255-7701
Cornell University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Size matters: Smaller particles could make solar panels more efficient
2. Distribution is what matters: How body fat influences the risk of diabetes
3. Size matters: Eavesdropping on sexual signals
4. Research links telomere length to emphysema risk
5. Plant growth rate, stem length unaffected by rice hull, peat substrate
6. Unique gene combinations control tropical maize response to day lengths
7. Effect of cloud-scattered sunlight on earths energy balance depends on wavelength of light
8. Planetary exploration robots to be featured on science program WaveLengths
9. Ovarian transplantation restores fertility to old mice and also lengthens their lives
10. Lengthening time a drug remains bound to a target may lead to improving diagnostics, therapy
11. Texas Childrens Cancer Center first in Texas to magnetically lengthen nine-year-olds leg as she grows
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/5/2017)... 4, 2017 KEY FINDINGS The ... at a CAGR of 25.76% during the forecast period ... primary factor for the growth of the stem cell ... MARKET INSIGHTS The global stem cell market ... and geography. The stem cell market of the product ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... , March 30, 2017 The research team ... for three-dimensional (3D) fingerprint identification by adopting ground breaking 3D fingerprint ... new realm of speed and accuracy for use in identification, crime ... affordable cost. ... A ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... N.Y. , March 27, 2017  Catholic ... Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Analytics for ... EMR Adoption Model sm . In addition, CHS ... of U.S. hospitals using an electronic medical record ... for its high level of EMR usage in ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/23/2017)... Washington, USA (PRWEB) , ... May 22, 2017 ... ... SPIE Optics and Photonics 2017 in San Diego, California, this August will ... reality, solar fuels, and autonomous vehicles. , SPIE Optics and Photonics, the largest ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... May 23, 2017 , ... Bacterial biofilms, surface adherent ... can cause diverse pathologies ranging from food poisoning and catheter infections to gum disease ... in the tens of billions of dollars per year, there is currently a paucity ...
(Date:5/22/2017)... ... May 22, 2017 , ... ... leaders of the Maryland Biohealth community in developing and issuing recommendations to grow ... U.S. BioHealth Innovation Hub by 2023. , The recommendations are ...
(Date:5/19/2017)... ... May 19, 2017 , ... In response to the ... disorders, Biodex Medical Systems, Inc. announces the release of their Gait Trainer 3 with ... joined with a biomedical system to aid in rehabilitating individuals with cerebral palsy, traumatic ...
Breaking Biology Technology: