02 April 2010
Nature provides, nurture thrives
The genome of the male zebra finch devotes a lot of genetic code to hearing and singing songs, according to an analysis in the journal Nature. Much of that code controls brain circuits that are similar to the circuits people use for vocal learning.
The similarities mean research on zebra finches could help explain a wide range of human speech and communication disorders, from stuttering to autism, Clayton says.
The rudimentary steps are very similar," he says. Young male zebra finches produce something called a subsong, "which has been likened to the babbling of a human infant."
By listening to an older male, usually its father, Clayton says, the zebra finch eventually learns to produce a precise and sophisticated song that it will use for the rest of its life.
Read the rest here.