William Weir

Archive for the ‘sounds of nature’ Category

Some More Bird Song Science

In sounds of nature on January 23, 2011 at 8:26 pm

So this study is about two years old, but it hasn’t gotten any less fascinating since. And since I recently had posts on metronomes and bird song, this one nicely ties the two together.

Researchers at MIT found that by cooling a part of a zebra finch’s brain caused the bird to slow its singing. This brain region, the high vocal center (or HVC) is where the bird’s internal metronome resides. The study also shed some light on the brain mechanics of bird song. Says reseacher Michale Fee:

It seems to look a lot like a music box. You have a drum that rotates and controls the timing. The drum has little bumps all over it. If you rotate the drum more slowly, you get the same notes but they come out more slowly.

And where goes the zebra finch brain goes (possibly) the human brain. Besides unlocking mysteries of bird song, the researchers say the findings could reveal some of the secrets behind humans’ capacity for speech and music.