Songbirds Sing Like Humans, Researchers Say

Vocal muscles of songbirds work like those of human speakers and singers, according to Emory University scientist Dr Samuel Sober and his colleagues from the University of Southern Denmark and Georgia Institute of Technology. Lonchura striata. Image credit: Thimindu Goonatillake / CC BY-SA 2.0. “Our research on Bengalese finches (Lonchura striata domestica) suggests that producing really complex song relies on the ability of the songbirds’ brains to direct complicated changes in combinations of muscles,” explained Dr Sober, who is the senior author of a paper in the Journal of Neuroscience. “In terms of vocal control, the bird brain appears as complicated and wonderful as the human brain.” Pitch, for example, is important to songbird vocalization, but there is no single muscle devoted to controlling it. “They don’t just contract one…

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