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Complex Disease Genomics

Using Songbirds to Study Neurobiology of Vocal Communication

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center are studying songbird genomes for clues about human vocal learning

Using Songbirds to Study Neurobiology of Vocal Communication
April 7, 2016

Erich Jarvis, PhD, a professor of Neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center and investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, leads a team of researchers using songbirds to understand the neurobiology of vocal learning, or how the human brain generates, perceives and learns spoken language.

Vocal learning, the ability to hear a sound and repeat it, is a complex behavior that few animals can perform. Studying songbirds as well as other animals that can imitate sounds, is providing insight into molecular mechanisms underlying the capacity for spoken language, one of the crucial traits that differentiate humans from other animals. Dr. Jarvis’ team is using the Illumina HiSeq® system to advance knowledge into the genetic basis of vocal learning and the mechanisms of brain function.

For more on his research, click here.

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