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Lei Xiao, Gaurav Chattree, Francisco Garcia Oscos, Mou Cao, Matthew J Wanat, Todd F Roberts
Learning vocal behaviors, like speech and birdsong, is thought to rely on continued performance evaluation. Whether candidate performance evaluation circuits in the brain are sufficient to guide vocal learning is not known. Here, we test the sufficiency of VTA projections to the vocal basal ganglia in singing zebra finches, a songbird species that learns to produce a complex and stereotyped multi-syllabic courtship song during development. We optogenetically manipulate VTA axon terminals in singing birds contingent on how the pitch of an individual song syllable is naturally performed...
March 14, 2018: Neuron
Tina C Roeske, Damian Kelty-Stephen, Sebastian Wallot
Music is thought to engage its listeners by driving feelings of surprise, tension, and relief through a dynamic mixture of predictable and unpredictable patterns, a property summarized here as "expressiveness". Birdsong shares with music the goal to attract its listeners' attention and might use similar strategies to achieve this. We here tested a thrush nightingale's (Luscinia luscinia) rhythm, as represented by song amplitude envelope (containing information on note timing, duration, and intensity), for evidence of expressiveness...
March 15, 2018: Scientific Reports
Logan S James, Jennifer B Dai, Jon T Sakata
Many important behaviours are socially learned. For example, the acoustic structure of courtship songs in songbirds is learned by listening to and interacting with conspecifics during a sensitive period in development. Signallers modify the spectral and temporal structures of their vocalizations depending on the social context, but the degree to which this modulation requires imitative social learning remains unknown. We found that male zebra finches ( Taeniopygia guttata ) that were not exposed to context-dependent song modulations throughout development significantly modulated their song in ways that were typical of socially reared birds...
March 2018: Biology Letters
Majid Moshirfar, Yanning Ding, Yasmyne Ronquillo, Orry C Birdsong, Michael S Murri
Ultramarathon-associated corneal edema is a rare phenomenon. We report a case of a patient who presented with bilateral corneal edema following an ultramarathon. The corneal edema resolved without sequelae 48 h later. The authors hypothesize that the additive effect of enhanced glycolysis, an increased lactate level in the aqueous humor, and oxidative stress alters the normal endothelial regulation of the cornea and leads to corneal edema.
March 13, 2018: Ophthalmology and Therapy
Karla D Rivera-Cáceres, Esmeralda Quirós-Guerrero, Marcelo Araya-Salas, Christopher N Templeton, William A Searcy
Exchange of vocal signals is an important aspect of animal communication. Although birdsong is the premier model for understanding vocal development, the development of vocal interaction rules in birds and possible parallels to humans have been little studied. Many tropical songbirds engage in complex vocal interactions in the form of duets between mated pairs. In some species, duets show precise temporal coordination and follow rules (duet codes) governing which song type one bird uses to reply to each of the song types of its mate...
February 2018: Royal Society Open Science
Cengiz Pehlevan, Farhan Ali, Bence P Ölveczky
Temporally precise movement patterns underlie many motor skills and innate actions, yet the flexibility with which the timing of such stereotyped behaviors can be modified is poorly understood. To probe this, we induce adaptive changes to the temporal structure of birdsong. We find that the duration of specific song segments can be modified without affecting the timing in other parts of the song. We derive formal prescriptions for how neural networks can implement such flexible motor timing. We find that randomly connected recurrent networks, a common approximation for how neocortex is wired, do not generally conform to these, though certain implementations can approximate them...
March 6, 2018: Nature Communications
Phillip C Hoopes, Brian D Walker, Orry C Birdsong, Majid Moshirfar
We describe a technique used to recenter a small-aperture corneal inlay (Kamra). Repositioning the inlay is performed to achieve the best presbyopic correction while maintaining distance visual acuity.
January 2018: Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery
Rebecca E Koch, Geoffrey E Hill
Males of many animal species court females using complex behavioural displays that are challenging to produce, and some of these displays have been shown to be associated with aspects of male quality. However, the mechanisms by which behavioural displays are linked to individual condition remain uncertain. Herein, we illustrate fundamental mechanistic connections between mitochondrial function and neurogenesis, energy production, and a variety of pathways that underlie the ability of an individual to perform complex behaviours...
February 13, 2018: Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
William D Pearse, Ignacio Morales-Castilla, Logan S James, Maxwell Farrell, Frédéric Boivin, T Jonathan Davies
Studying the macroevolution of the songs of Passeriformes (perching birds) has proved challenging. The complexity of the task stems not just from the macroevolutionary and macroecological challenge of modelling so many species, but also from the difficulty in collecting and quantifying birdsong itself. Using machine learning techniques, we extracted songs from a large citizen science dataset, and then analysed the evolution, and biotic and abiotic predictors of variation in birdsong across 578 passerine species...
February 14, 2018: Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution
Jennifer Lampen, J Devin McAuley, Soo-Eun Chang, Juli Wade
Rhythm is an important aspect of both human speech and birdsong. Adult zebra finches show increased neural activity following exposure to arrhythmic compared to rhythmic song in regions similar to the mammalian auditory association cortex and amygdala. This pattern may indicate that birds are detecting errors in the arrhythmic song relative to their learned song template or to more general expectations of song structure. Here we exposed juvenile zebra finches to natural conspecific song (rhythmic) or song with altered inter-syllable intervals (arrhythmic) prior to or during template formation, or afterward as males are matching vocal production to a memorized song template (sensorimotor integration)...
December 13, 2017: Behavioural Processes
Dana L Moseley, Narendra R Joshi, Jonathan F Prather, Jeffrey Podos, Luke Remage-Healey
In humans and other animals, behavioural variation in learning has been associated with variation in neural features like morphology and myelination. By contrast, it is essentially unknown whether cognitive performance scales with electrophysiological properties of individual neurons. Birdsong learning offers a rich system to investigate this topic as song acquisition is similar to human language learning. Here, we address the interface between behavioural learning and neurophysiology in a cohort of wild-caught, hand-reared songbirds (swamp sparrows, Melospiza georgiana)...
December 11, 2017: Scientific Reports
Madza Farias-Virgens, Stephanie A White
Spoken languages such as German are extremely discrete, whereas others such as Portuguese are melodic or "sing-song" wherein identifying a word relies on what comes before and after. Perhaps surprisingly, birdsong also exhibits specificity and generalization as articulated by Tian and Brainard (2017).
December 6, 2017: Neuron
Ofer Tchernichovski, Dina Lipkind
Culturally transmitted behaviors have an innate foundation, but the detailed sequential structure of such complex, acquired behaviors is often an outcome of historical accidents. New research has identified innate predispositions for structuring vocal sequences in culturally acquired birdsong.
December 4, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Logan S James, Jon T Sakata
Biological predispositions in vocal learning have been proposed to underlie commonalities in vocal sequences, including for speech and birdsong, but cultural propagation could also account for such commonalities [1-4]. Songbirds such as the zebra finch learn the sequencing of their acoustic elements ("syllables") during development [5-8]. Zebra finches are not constrained to learn a specific sequence of syllables, but significant consistencies in the positioning and sequencing of syllables have been observed between individuals within populations and between populations [8-10]...
December 4, 2017: Current Biology: CB
Juan F Döppler, Alan Bush, Franz Goller, Gabriel B Mindlin
Behavior emerges from the interaction between the nervous system and peripheral devices. In the case of birdsong production, a delicate and fast control of several muscles is required to control the configuration of the syrinx (the avian vocal organ) and the respiratory system. In particular, the syringealis ventralis muscle is involved in the control of the tension of the vibrating labia and thus affects the frequency modulation of the sound. Nevertheless, the translation of the instructions (which are electrical in nature) into acoustical features is complex and involves nonlinear, dynamical processes...
February 2018: Journal of Comparative Physiology. A, Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Sarah E London
Songbirds famously learn their vocalizations. Some species can learn continuously, others seasonally, and still others just once. The zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) learns to sing during a single developmental "Critical Period," a restricted phase during which a specific experience has profound and permanent effects on brain function and behavioral patterns. The zebra finch can therefore provide fundamental insight into features that promote and limit the ability to acquire complex learned behaviors. For example, what properties permit the brain to come "on-line" for learning? How does experience become encoded to prevent future learning? What features define the brain in receptive compared to closed learning states? This piece will focus on epigenomic, genomic, and molecular levels of analysis that operate on the timescales of development and complex behavioral learning...
November 20, 2017: Behavioural Processes
Julia Hyland Bruno, Ofer Tchernichovski
The proliferation of birdsong research into the neural mechanisms of vocal learning is indebted to the remarkable stereotypy of the zebra finch's song motif. Motifs are composed of several copied syllables, which birds learn to produce in a fixed order. But at a higher level of organization-the bout-zebra finch song is no longer stereotyped. Song bouts include several repetitions of the motif, which are often linked by a variable number of short "connector" vocalizations. In this conceptual methods paper, we show that combinatorial analysis alone yields an incomplete description of this bout-level structure...
November 6, 2017: Behavioural Processes
J W G Slade, M J Watson, E A MacDougall-Shackleton
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) plays a key role in vertebrate immunity, and pathogen-mediated selection often favours certain allelic combinations. Assessing potential mates' MHC profiles may provide receivers with genetic benefits (identifying MHC-compatible mates and producing optimally diverse offspring) and/or material benefits (identifying optimally diverse mates capable of high parental investment). Oscine songbirds learn songs during early life, such that song repertoire content can reflect population of origin while song complexity can reflect early life condition...
November 2017: Biology Letters
Caitlin P Mencio, Vy My Tran, Maritza V Quintero, Mamoru Koketsu, Franz Goller, Balagurunathan Kuberan
In the brain, the extracellular matrix (ECM) plays a central role during neural development and thus modulates critical-period regulated behavioral ontogeny. The major components of the ECM are glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) including chondroitin sulfate (CS). However, the specific roles of GAGs in behavioral development are largely unknown. It has been shown that xylosides affect the biological functions of GAGs through modulating GAG biosynthesis. Particularly, xylosides affect GAG biosynthesis through priming of GAG chains (priming activity), competing with endogenous core proteins that carry GAG initiation sites (decoy activity), or both...
December 2017: Developmental Neurobiology
Lauren V Riters, Jeremy A Spool, Devin P Merullo, Allison H Hahn
In adult songbirds, the primary functions of song are mate attraction and territory defense; yet, many songbirds sing at high rates as juveniles and outside these primary contexts as adults. Singing outside primary contexts is critical for song learning and maintenance, and ultimately necessary for breeding success. However, this type of singing (i.e., song "practice") occurs even in the absence of immediate or obvious extrinsic reinforcement; that is, it does not attract mates or repel competitors. Here we review studies that support the hypothesis that song practice is stimulated and maintained by intrinsic reward mechanisms (i...
October 12, 2017: Behavioural Processes
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