Thursday, September 05, 2013

Discovery Helps to Unlock Brain's Speech-Learning Mechanism

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 ... [Sarah] 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 ganglia--a complex system of neurons in the brain responsible for, among other things, procedural learning--Bottjer 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. more

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