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Health Agencies Update
May 26, 2010

Vocal Genetics

JAMA. 2010;303(20):2022. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.643

An analysis of the zebra finch genome, funded in part by the National Human Genome Research Institute and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, provides new insights into how male birds learn to sing from their fathers. The findings, by a multinational team of scientists, may provide useful information for scientists studying the acquisition of language in humans.

Zebra finches are an important model animal in neuroscience, and their genome is only the second bird genome (after the chicken) to be sequenced. Because male zebra finches learn elaborate songs from their fathers, they are of particular interest to scientists seeking to understand how humans learn to speak.