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Scientific Correspondence
Nature Neuroscience  2, 209 - 211 (1999)
doi:10.1038/6306

Social context modulates singing-related neural activity in the songbird forebrain

Neal A. Hessler & Allison J. Doupe

Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience and Departments of Physiology and Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143 USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Neal A. Hessler neal@keck.ucsf.edu
Birdsong is a complex vocal behavior learned during early life in a process similar to the learning of human speech1. Like speech, singing is a social behavior—male songbirds often use it in courtship or in territorial defense2. Here we show that, in the adult zebra finch, the pattern of singing-related neural activity in several high-level brain areas specialized for song learning is dependent on whether a bird sings by itself or to another bird; thus, this activity can indicate not only that a bird is singing but also the social context of the song.


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Nature Neuroscience
ISSN: 1097-6256
EISSN: 1546-1726
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