Photo: Singing canaries
A team of Argentine researchers has found that canaries’ songs are created in different interconnected regions of the brain, a discovery that could lead to advances in research on the mechanisms that control human speech, scientists told Efe.
National Scientific and Technical Research Council, or CONICET, scientists selected canaries as the research subject because of “their similarity to how we humans learn to produce language,” lead researcher Gabriel Mindlin said.
The project’s goal is to understand “which parts of the nervous system are the ones that the bird must learn to control” to sing, Mindlin said.
“That nucleus interacts with other structures, such as the one responsible for breathing,” and the “competition” between the structures determines the properties of the song, the scientist said.
The study has revealed the complexity of canaries’ brains, the scientist said.
Canaries, in addition to “learning” how to speak in the same way as humans, are part of the most common family of birds, making the study valuable in understanding other species, Mindlin said.
The scientists will next try to learn which other parts of the brain participate in the singing process.