Signal Production and Amplification in Birds

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Studies of avian vocal mechanisms provide new insights into an important form of animal communication that has both striking parallels with and important differences from various aspects of human speech production. Birdsong is produced in a distinctive vocal organ, the syrinx, which in some groups contains two independently controlled sound generators. This article summarizes the current understanding of the mechanisms by which birds regulate the temporal and spectral characteristics of their vocal signals, including the role of sensory feedback, lateralization of neural function, and modulation of song by vocal tract filter. Together, these data suggest production constraints have strongly influenced the motor strategies for achieving vocal diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Neuroscience
PublisherElsevier Ltd.
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9780080450469
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Beak movements
  • Birdsong
  • Electromyogram
  • Formant
  • Lateralization of neural function
  • Oscine
  • Performance constraints
  • Respiration
  • Sensory feedback
  • Syrinx
  • Vocal communication
  • Vocal mimic
  • Vocal performance
  • Vocal tract resonance
  • Vocalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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  • Cite this

    Suthers, R. A. (2009). Signal Production and Amplification in Birds. In Encyclopedia of Neuroscience (pp. 805-815). Elsevier Ltd..