NCOpera

Musings on opera in NC and beyond

Humans may be birdbrains.

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"Quando m'en vo, quando men vo soletta per la via..."

Scientists have cracked the genetic code of a songbird–the little Zebra Finch–for the first time, identifying more than 800 genes linked to song learning.

Baby zebra finches learn to sing in virtually the same way as human babies learn to speak — by copying their mom and dad — which means the tiny bird should serve as a valuable model for understanding human learning and memory. 

“Song learning is an excellent paradigm for all types of learning,” said Chris Ponting, a professor with the Medical Research Council Functional Genomics Unit at University of Oxford, who was involved in the research. “There are experiments that can be done that immediately provide information as to what changes occur in neurons (brain cells) upon the learning of a song. The zebra finch genome provides a tool that allows this exploration,” he told Reuters.

Baby finches, like human infants, start off by “babbling” before the young males learn to imitate their father’s song and eventually pass it on to the next generation. So keep singing Musetta’s Waltz or O mio babbino caro to your little bambinos and pass the great tradition of opera on to the next generation!

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Written by Darla

March 31, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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