Scientists managed to implant information about the structure of songs directly into the brain of songbirds. Scientists have applied the methods of optogenetics – a scientific field, the methods of which can regulate the functioning of nerve cells with the help of light. The research of biologists is written by the scientific journal Science.
Scientists have long been trying to figure out how a person learned to speak in the process of evolution, and what areas of the brain are involved in learning speech. The researchers tried to establish this with the help of songbirds, reports TASS.
The object of the study, scientists chose zebra amadines (Taeniopygia guttata), whose process of learning to sing is in many ways similar to the process of teaching a person to speak. These birds listen to the singing of their parents in early childhood and, many times repeating individual fragments of the melody, in the end they can play similar songs.
Biologists have identified in the Amadins two areas of the brain that are responsible for memorizing melodies. Scientists decided to "implant" the knowledge of songs directly into the brain of the chicks.
Researchers using a special virus introduced special photosensitive proteins into these two areas of the brain. Scientists worked on the connections between these areas with the help of light to teach birds melodies without first listening to them.
Another group of birds trained in the traditional way, listening to the songs of their parents.
Birds from the first group really could learn songs only after they “introduced” knowledge about them into their brains. At the same time, the duration of individual fragments of melodies depended on how long scientists shone on photosensitive proteins, and could differ from ordinary melodies. Otherwise, the songs of the birds from the two groups were almost identical.
Scientists believe that this study may help to learn more about diseases associated with disorders of the central nervous system in humans.
Previously, scientists have already conducted similar experiments. So, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created artificial memory and implanted it into the brain of the mouse.
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