Erich Jarvis: Brain Pathways for Vocal Learning

I. Convergent behavior and brain pathways
II. Motor theory of vocal learning origin
III. Genes specialized in vocal learning circuits

Part II: Motor theory of vocal learning origin

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Lecture Overview
In Part 1, Jarvis explains that vocal learning is the ability to hear a sound and repeat it. Only 5 groups of mammals (including humans) and 3 groups of birds (parrots, hummingbirds and songbirds) are capable of vocal learning. Jarvis and his lab members imaged changes in gene expression in bird’s brains after singing. They found that hummingbirds, songbirds and parrots each have pathways in specific areas of the brain that are not found in non-vocal learning birds. Interestingly, analogous networks exist in the human brain but not in non-vocal learning monkeys. More >>

Speaker Bio
Erich Jarvis was a high school student at the School of the Performing Arts in New York City. Upon graduation, he had to choose between continuing as a dancer and becoming a scientist. He chose science. Jarvis pursued his undergraduate degree at Hunter College where he found that the discipline and creativity of his dance training were equally applicable to scientific study. Jarvis went on to do graduate and postdoctoral work at Rockefeller University where he made his first studies of songbird learning. More >>

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