Skip navigation
  How songbird’s strategy to change tune may inform rehab efforts

 

Narrator:            This is Science Today. A songbird's strategy for changing its tune could someday lead to rehabilitating people with neuromuscular diseases or injuries. Neuroscientists at the University of California, San Francisco used an automated computer system to figure out how songbirds learn to perfect and maintain their song.

Charlesworth:    So, the general goal of this research was to improve our understanding of how the nervous system learns from signals of success or failure.

Narrator:            Study leader Jonathan Charlesworth explains that songbirds learned to change their tune when hearing an unpleasant sound by remembering every slight change in pitch of a single syllable sung about 500 times a day.

Charlesworth:    The general result here means that the brain keeps track of behavior in a more detailed way that we thought before. If you're trying to re-teach somebody something, you don't have to give feedback signals that are extremely complicated. You just have to tell them whether this was good or bad and the brain can do most of the rest of the work.

Narrator:            For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.