MOTOR CONTROL IN PRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT

Project: Research project

Description

This research focuses on basic problems in the sensorimotor control
and development of complex vocal communication in songbirds. Songbirds
provide an excellent model in which to study issues important both to
students of animal communication and to those of human speech. Except for
man, songbirds are the only animal in which learning plays an important
role in the development of complex vocal signals. Songbirds were also the
first animal model for central lateralization of vocal motor control
analogous to cerebral dominance in human speech. Studies on the
neuroethology of birdsong provide a way of experimentally evaluating a
variety of concepts important to understanding human speech among which are
included the possibility of special phonetic processing in the production
and perception of vocal signals, the motor theory of speech perception and
the function of central lateralization. These experiments utilize a new technique in which microbead
thermistors are placed in each bronchus to record air movement associated
with respiration and phonation. Respiratory pressure and the pattern of
electrical activity of muscles comprising the vocal organ can also be
measured. For the first time it is possible to directly monitor the sound
produced and motor activity occurring on each side of the intact syrinx
during song. Specific questions to be addressed include: What acoustic
contribution does each side of the syrinx make to song? How is activity on
the two sides coordinated? Can each side act independently of the other?
Is song from a normal syrinx lateralized and if so does this originate
centrally (analogous to cerebral dominance in human speech) or peripherally
(thus being inappropriate as an animal analog of hemispheric dominance in
speech)? What are the motor correlates responsible for specific vocal
gestures or phonetic elements of song and how do they develop in the young
bird? How are the sometimes conflicting, but interdependent, motor demands
of respiratory ventilation integrated with song production? What
differences with respect to the preceding questions are there between birds
which retain a highly variable plastic song as adults verses those with a
crystallized, more stereotyped song? The proposed experiments on adult birds thus address fundamental
problems of broad interest. These include the peripheral control and
execution of complex central motor patterns; the nature and function of
lateralized motor control at both the central and peripheral levels; the
motor correlates of specific vocal gestures including the possibility of
a special phonetic processing for the production of vocal communication;
the use of the same peripheral structure in different behaviors such as
vocalization and respiration. Studies on young birds will in addition make
a significant contribution toward a better understanding of ontogenetic
aspects of sensorimotor development of vocalizations for communication;
motor correlates of impressionable periods and the possible role of motor
learning.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date5/1/9112/31/15

Funding

  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health: $238,664.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $232,294.00
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health: $120,254.00
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health: $306,563.00
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health: $310,220.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $288,008.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $312,855.00
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health: $301,043.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $139,739.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $299,125.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $227,224.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $237,205.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $274,412.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $244,317.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $280,031.00

Fingerprint

Music
Parrots
Songbirds
Laryngeal Muscles
Sensory Feedback
Syringes
Motor Neurons
Research
Respiratory System
Plastics
esophagus
birds
Oropharynx
Hot Temperature
Learning
acoustics
Pressure
Esophagus
filters
Communication

ASJC

  • Medicine(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)