London: A peek into the `learning hub` of a songbird`s brain, may help scientists figure out new ways to treat neurological disorders that impair movement like Huntington``s disease and Parkinson`s disease.To learn its signature melody, the male songbird uses a trial-and-error method to mimic the song of its father, singing the tune over and over again, hundreds of times a day, making slight changes in the pitch of the notes.For the male Bengalese finch, this rigorous training programme begins around the age of 40 days and is completed about day 90, just as he becomes sexually mature and ready to use his song to woo females.To accomplish this feat, the songbird`s brain must receive and process large quantities of information about its performance and use that data to precisely control the complex vocal actions that allow it to modify the pitch and pattern of its song.Now, scientists at UCSF have shown that a key brain structure acts as a learning hub, receiving information from other regions of the brain and figuring out how to use that information to improve its song, even when it``s not directly controlling the action.Years of research conducted in the lab of Michael Brainard, PhD, an associate professor of physiology at UCSF, has revealed that the adult finches can keep track of slight differences in the individual “syllables,” or notes, they play and hear, and make mental computations that allow them to alter the pitch.For previous experiments, Brainard and his colleagues developed a training programme that induced adult finches to calibrate their song.
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