Age and Experience Affect the Recruitment of New Neurons to the Song System of Zebra Finches during the Sensitive Period for Song Learning: Ditto for Vocal Learning in Humans?


Address for correspondence: Fernando Nottebohm, Rockefeller Field Research Center, Millbrook, NY 12545. Voice: 845-677-3059; fax: 212-327-8312.


Abstract: Vocal learning in songbirds and humans is a complex learned skill with sensory, motor, and social aspects. It culminates in the imitation of sounds produced by other, usually older individuals. Song learning and language learning may differ in their cognitive content, but both require coordination of auditory feedback and fine motor control, which may be supported by similar brain structures. Vocal learning in birds as in humans requires the use of forebrain networks; in songbirds these networks are thought to be related, in part, to the frontal association cortex-basal ganglia loops that mature in humans at adolescence.