OKINAWA INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
EDITOR’S CHOICE IN NEUROSCIENCE
M. Araki et al., “Mind the gap: Neural coding of species identity in birdsong prosody,” Science, 354:1282-87, 2016.
Bird songs contain scads of information, including a bird’s species identity and reproductive potential. According to Yoko Yazaki-Sugiyama of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, there are two competing elements within an individual bird’s song: the characteristics common to all members of their species, and distinct elements that each male bird develops.
How zebra finches retain species identity within their unique songs was not clear, so to find out, Yazaki-Sugiyama and her team placed baby zebra finches with Bengalese finch parents. Although the young zebra finches adopted the syllables of their foster parents’ songs, their tunes maintained their own...