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 August 27, 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 August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stroke in Young Adults

Stroke in Young Adults

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A stroke can happen at any time and affect anyone regardless of age. This mother chose to give her son independence and continue to live a normal life after he had a stroke at 18 years old. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Distracted Adults: ADHD?

Distracted Adults: ADHD?

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Most people don’t realize that ADHD isn’t just for kids. It can affect the work as well as personal lives of many adults, and often times they don’t even know they have it. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Sight and Sounds of Autism

The Sight and Sounds of Autism

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A new study is explaining why for some people with autism what they see and what they hear is out of sync. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experiences Make Us Happy, Even Just Waiting For Them

Experiences Make Us Happy, Even Just Waiting For Them

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) New research finds we get more excited to buy experiences than we do to buy material things. 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