Saturday, May 03, 2008


Goslings, originally uploaded by Mark Klotz.

How do baby birds learn to sing?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Baby birds babble much like human infants do, and they have their own special brain circuits to do it, researchers reported on Thursday.

Their findings suggest that learning to sing -- and also to speak -- is a process independent of adult singing or speech.

Perhaps other aspects of infant learning are equally independent in the brain, Michale Fee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and colleagues suggested.

"Young birds learn their songs in a series of stages. They start out just as humans do, by babbling," Fee said in an audio interview on the Web site of the journal Science, which published the findings.

"The brain really learns how to use its body by making spontaneous movements and seeing what happens," Fee added.

"Babbling in songbirds is just an example of play -- it's vocal play."

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