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Humans and birds share the same singing genes


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It’s not just great minds that think alike. Dozens of the
genes involved in the vocal learning that underpins human
speech are also active in some songbirds. And knowing this
suggests that birds could become a standard model for
investigating the genetics of speech production – and
speech disorders.
Complex language is a uniquely human trait, but vocal
learning – the ability to pick up new sounds by imitating
others – is not. Some mammals, including whales, dolphins
and elephants, share our ability to learn new vocalisations.
So do three groups of birds: the songbirds, parrots and
The similarities between vocal learning in humans and birds
are not just superficial. We know, for instance, that
songbirds have specialised vocal learning brain circuits that
are similar to those that mediate human speech….continue reading on NEW SCIENTISTS LIFE

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