Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Roots of language in human and bird biology: Genes activated for human speech similar to ones used by singing songbirds

Date:
February 14, 2013
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
The neuroanatomy of human speech and bird song share structural features, behaviors and now gene expression patterns.

Zebra finches. Gene products produced for speech in the cortical and basal ganglia regions of the human brain correspond to similar molecules in the vocal communication areas of the brains of zebra finches and budgerigars.
Credit: MartinW / Fotolia

The genes activated for human speech are similar to the ones used by singing songbirds, new experiments suggest.

These results, which are not yet published, show that gene products produced for speech in the cortical and basal ganglia regions of the human brain correspond to similar molecules in the vocal communication areas of the brains of zebra finches and budgerigars. But these molecules aren't found in the brains of doves and quails -- vocal birds that do not learn their sounds.

"The results suggest that similar behavior and neural connectivity for a convergent complex trait like speech and song are associated with many similar genetic changes," said Duke neurobiologist Erich Jarvis, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

Jarvis studies the molecular pathways that songbirds use while learning to sing. In past experiments, he and his collaborators found that songbirds have a connection between the front part of their brain and nerves in the brainstem that control movement in muscles that make songs in birds. They've seen this circuit in a more primitive form related to ultrasonic mating calls in mice. Humans also have this motor learning pathway for speech.

From this and other work, Jarvis developed the motor theory for the origin of vocal learning, which describes how ancient brain systems used to control movement and motor learning evolved into brain systems for learning and producing song and spoken language.

Jarvis is an associate professor of neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. He received his B.A. in biology and mathematics from the City University of New York, Hunter College, and his Ph.D. in neurobiology and animal behavior from the Rockefeller University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Gustavo Arriaga, Eric P. Zhou, Erich D. Jarvis. Of Mice, Birds, and Men: The Mouse Ultrasonic Song System Has Some Features Similar to Humans and Song-Learning Birds. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (10): e46610 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046610
  2. Gustavo Arriaga, Erich D. Jarvis. Mouse vocal communication system: Are ultrasounds learned or innate? Brain and Language, 2013; 124 (1): 96 DOI: 10.1016/j.bandl.2012.10.002

Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Roots of language in human and bird biology: Genes activated for human speech similar to ones used by singing songbirds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130214111604.htm>.
Duke University. (2013, February 14). Roots of language in human and bird biology: Genes activated for human speech similar to ones used by singing songbirds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130214111604.htm
Duke University. "Roots of language in human and bird biology: Genes activated for human speech similar to ones used by singing songbirds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130214111604.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins