Hummingbirds – Brain Structure

Hummingbirds – Brain Structure
Music
Ambiance: Hummingbirds DAT 01.05.29

Not all animals are able to learn and imitate sounds but those that do have something rather remarkable in common. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Erich Jarvis is an Assistant Professor of Neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center. His research measures the brain activity of hummingbirds, one of a limited number of animals which are known to be able to learn and reproduce complex sound patterns.

“So when these birds sing, part of the brain is activated and we have methods of detecting what brain areas are involved in production of these learned sounds. You can then ask, whether or not those structures that you have now identified are same as or different as to what you’ve seen in other vocal learning species. ”

Studies conducted in Brazil, revealed some startling likenesses between the brains of hummingbirds and other animals with similar vocal learning abilities.

“What we found was quite surprising to us and remarkable. Hummingbirds, as well as the songbirds and parrots, all had seven brain structures that were activated during singing behavior. They didn’t have five, they didn’t have six, one didn’t have twelve. Each of them had seven structures. And of those seven structures, three of them were in identical brain locations and the other four were in closely related brain locations. Why is that so remarkable? Well it’s thought that they evolved their brain structure independently in the past sixty-five million years? So if they evolved it independently, how did they do it in almost the exactly the same way?”

Erich Jarvis hopes that in the future information gathered from hummingbirds will allow medical researchers to better understand speech problems in humans.

Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Hummingbirds - Brain Structure

The brain structure of hummingbirds has given researchers something to think about.
Air Date:03/08/2012
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Hummingbirds - Brain Structure
Music
Ambiance: Hummingbirds DAT 01.05.29

Not all animals are able to learn and imitate sounds but those that do have something rather remarkable in common. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Erich Jarvis is an Assistant Professor of Neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center. His research measures the brain activity of hummingbirds, one of a limited number of animals which are known to be able to learn and reproduce complex sound patterns.

"So when these birds sing, part of the brain is activated and we have methods of detecting what brain areas are involved in production of these learned sounds. You can then ask, whether or not those structures that you have now identified are same as or different as to what you've seen in other vocal learning species. "

Studies conducted in Brazil, revealed some startling likenesses between the brains of hummingbirds and other animals with similar vocal learning abilities.

"What we found was quite surprising to us and remarkable. Hummingbirds, as well as the songbirds and parrots, all had seven brain structures that were activated during singing behavior. They didn't have five, they didn't have six, one didn't have twelve. Each of them had seven structures. And of those seven structures, three of them were in identical brain locations and the other four were in closely related brain locations. Why is that so remarkable? Well it's thought that they evolved their brain structure independently in the past sixty-five million years? So if they evolved it independently, how did they do it in almost the exactly the same way?"

Erich Jarvis hopes that in the future information gathered from hummingbirds will allow medical researchers to better understand speech problems in humans.

Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.