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Bird Brains Show How Trial and Error May Contribute to Learning

that birds with damage to that region of the brain lost their improvisational ability. In birds without a functioning LMAN, Kao and her colleagues still found differences between the two types of songs, but the solo song lost its subtle variations.

"In a nutshell, our paper suggests that the basal ganglia play a special role in generating motor variability," Brainard said. "It's been known for a long time that this circuit is important in learning. Our data supports the hypothesis that one of the things it could be doing is introducing variability."

Other researchers in the Brainard and Doupe labs are following up to see if the male mating song can be permanently altered by LMAN stimulation and whether females prefer the stable or variable song version.


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Source:Howard Hughes Medical Institute

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