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Neural Circuits Underlying Vocal Learning in Songbirds

  • Jon T. SakataEmail author
  • Yoko Yazaki-Sugiyama
Chapter
  • 51 Downloads
Part of the Springer Handbook of Auditory Research book series (SHAR, volume 71)

Abstract

Songbirds have become the most prominent animal model to reveal the neural mechanisms underlying vocal learning. Similar to other forms of sensorimotor learning, vocal learning in songbirds entails acquiring a sensory representation of communicative sounds (songs) and learning the motor commands to produce the memorized sounds. The process of song learning in songbirds is highly similar to the process of speech acquisition in humans; as such, there are extensive efforts to discover and characterize the neural circuitry for song learning in songbirds to gain insight into potential mechanisms underlying speech acquisition in humans. This chapter provides a conceptual review of the neural circuits regulating the sensory and sensorimotor learning of birdsong as well as the mechanisms underlying variation in the extent and fidelity of vocal learning (e.g., timing of song learning, social interactions, and biological predispositions). Findings from various songbird species are integrated to provide a comparative perspective on neural mechanisms. In addition, outstanding questions and new research directions for birdsong research are considered.

Keywords

Auditory feedback Birdsong Critical period Dopamine HVC Locus coeruleus NCM Norepinephrine Sensory learning Speech Ventral tegmental area Zebra finch 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Mimi Kao for helpful comments on a previous version of the manuscrFipt.

Compliance With Ethics Requirements

Jon T. Sakata declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Yoko Yazaki-Sugiyama declares that she has no conflict of interest.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology and Centre for Research in Brain, Language, and MusicMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate UniversityOkinawaJapan
  3. 3.International Research Center for Neurointelligence (IRCN)The University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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