Behaviourally driven gene expression reveals song nuclei in hummingbird brain.
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Hummingbirds have developed a wealth of intriguing features, such as backwards flight, ultraviolet vision, extremely high metabolic rates, nocturnal hibernation, high brain-to-body size ratio and a remarkable species-specific diversity of vocalizations. Like humans, they have also developed the rare trait of vocal learning, this being the ability to acquire vocalizations through imitation rather than instinct. Here we show, using behaviourally driven gene expression in freely ranging tropical animals, that the forebrain of hummingbirds contains seven discrete structures that are active during singing, providing the first anatomical and functional demonstration of vocal nuclei in hummingbirds. These structures are strikingly similar to seven forebrain regions that are involved in vocal learning and production in songbirds and parrots--the only other avian orders known to be vocal learners. This similarity is surprising, as songbirds, parrots and hummingbirds are thought to have evolved vocal learning and associated brain structures independently, and it indicates that strong constraints may influence the evolution of forebrain vocal nuclei.
Gene Expression Regulation
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1038/35020570
Publication InfoJarvis, ED; Ribeiro, S; da Silva, ML; Ventura, D; Vielliard, J; & Mello, CV (2000). Behaviourally driven gene expression reveals song nuclei in hummingbird brain. Nature, 406(6796). pp. 628-632. 10.1038/35020570. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/11215.
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Adjunct Professor in the Dept. of Neurobiology
Dr. Jarvis' laboratory studies the neurobiology of vocal communication. Emphasis is placed on the molecular pathways involved in the perception and production of learned vocalizations. They use an integrative approach that combines behavioral, anatomical, electrophysiological and molecular biological techniques. The main animal model used is songbirds, one of the few vertebrate groups that evolved the ability to learn vocalizations. The generality of the discoveries is tested in other vocal