Songbirds' songs come from 'hymn sheets in their heads'

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London, Nov 13 : Swiss researchers have identified that songbirds learn to sing from a hymn sheet in their head.

The boffins discovered a region of the Zebra Finch brain, which they reckon has an internal recording of how the birds ought to be singing.

According to the journal Nature, a separate region seems to enable the birds to identify mistakes in their songs, the researchers said.

The finding could help shed light on how humans learn to speak, said Zurich University boffins

To reach the conclusion, the research team monitored the electrical activity of cells in the zebra finches brains that are associated with listening.

They did this as the birds were singing, and while the birds were listening to recordings of other zebra finches.

The analysis revealed that some neurons were constantly active, as if the finches were listening to a recording in their brain.

Other cells became active when the birds made mistakes, or when they heard recordings of songs which featured disturbances or disruptions.

According to lead author Professor Richard Hahnloser, of the University of Zurich, it is these cells that enable the birds to learn from their errors.

"This is a proof of concept that birds do actually listen to their own songs, and they do seem to be comparing it to something that they expect, or would like to hear. So these neurons could give us a clue of how the birds learn their songs, with reference to some song that they've previously stored in their brain," BBC quoted him, as saying.

The scientists believe their research could also shed light on how humans learn to speak.

ANI

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