Results 1 to 2 of 2

Thread: Birds Share 'Language' Gene with Humans

  1. #1

    Post Birds Share 'Language' Gene with Humans

    Original Source:

    The process by which baby birds learn to sing shares a number of traits with that by which toddlers learn to talk. Now researchers have identified a common gene between birds and people that underlies both abilities. The discovery marks the start of an effort to explore the genetic underpinnings of vocal learning.
    Vocal learning is characteristic of a number of animals, including humans, dolphins, whales and birds. To probe how genetics guides this process, Sebastian Haesler of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin and Kazuhiro Wada of Duke University Medical Center and their colleagues focused on a gene known as FoxP2, mutatation of which is associated with language problems in people. "In affected humans, the mutation causes a very specific dysfunction," study co-author Erich Jarvis of Duke University explains. "These people have largely normal motor coordination, but an inability to correctly pronounce words or form them into grammatically correct sentences. What’s more, they have trouble understanding complex language." The team analyzed expression of FoxP2 in a number of bird species, both vocal learners and nonlearners, and in crocodiles, the closest living relative of birds.

    In both humans and birds the gene is expressed in a brain region known as the basal ganglia, the researchers report today in the Journal of Neuroscience. "We found that the levels of FoxP2 seem to be increasing at times just before the bird begins to change its songs," Jarvis says. "So this is consistent with a cause-and-effect role, in which the gene switches on, allowing the song-learning circuitry to become more plastic, which allows the birds to imitate sounds." In nonvocal-learning species, in contrast, the team did not observe any localization or differential levels of FoxP2 activity. The team next plans to investigate whether there are small FoxP2 sequence differences between birds that learn to sing and those that do not, and study how mutations to the gene affect vocal learning. Other factors, such as connections between the brain and motor neurons controlling the voice, also contribute to vocal learning. But it is intriguing, Jarvis notes, "that an ancient gene like FoxP2 appears to have something to do with learned vocalizations both in humans and in birds."

  2. #2
    Progressive Collectivist
    „Friend of Germanics”
    Funding Membership Inactive
    Agrippa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Last Online
    Monday, January 31st, 2011 @ 09:22 PM
    Progressive Collectivist
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    Thanked in
    30 Posts

    Post Re: Birds Share 'Language' Gene with Humans

    Of course it would be interesting, if he is right, if other animals than that he mentioned have the same gene as well.
    I think that must be the case and it might be quite widespread.
    Magna Europa est patria nostra

Similar Threads

  1. The Language of the Birds: Occult Avian Linguistics
    By Catterick in forum Germanic Heathenry
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: Monday, October 10th, 2016, 11:53 PM
  2. Replies: 4
    Last Post: Saturday, December 3rd, 2011, 01:15 AM
  3. Replies: 0
    Last Post: Wednesday, February 9th, 2011, 04:52 PM
  4. Gene regulation, not just genes, is what sets humans apart
    By Northerner in forum Medical & Behavioral Genetics
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: Monday, August 13th, 2007, 07:32 PM
  5. The lopsided brain: Attention bias is shared by humans and birds
    By morfrain_encilgar in forum Psychology, Behavior, & Neuroscience
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: Saturday, May 28th, 2005, 06:33 AM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts