Brain pathways for behavioral variation and selection in a vocallearning songbird
Annual Meeting of the Association for Behavior Analysis
Association for Behavior Analysis
May 23-27, 2008
Date of Presentation
Male zebra finches learn a vocal pattern during juvenile life in a manner that bears a striking behavioral resemblance to human vocal learning. Following an early tutoring phase where the song of an adult male is heard, juvenile male zebra finches begin a sensory-motor learning phase where auditory feedback is used to shape initially variable vocal sounds into the sequence of distinct note types heard earlier in life. The neural circuit that controls this learning is composed of two neural pathways that converge on a common vocal/motor output. Here, I will present the view that the interaction between these two pathways is one of ontogenetic variation and selection. Interestingly, the neural pathway responsible for generating vocal variation includes the basal ganglia, a brain region highly conserved in architecture and neurochemistry across birds and mammals. Thus, our findings in songbirds suggest a broader model, where basal ganglia function contributes to the pre-existing behavioral variation necessary for operant learning to occur.
Brain pathways for behavioral variation and selection in a vocallearning songbird.
Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the Association for Behavior Analysis in Chicago, IL.