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In vivo assessment of the neural substrate linked with vocal imitation accuracy

Citation

Hamaide, Julie et al. (2020), In vivo assessment of the neural substrate linked with vocal imitation accuracy, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.mkkwh70vj

Abstract

Human speech and bird song are acoustically complex communication signals that are learned by imitation during a sensitive period early in life. Although the brain areas indispensable for speech and song learning are known, the neural circuits important for enhanced or reduced vocal performance remain unclear. By combining in vivo structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging with song analyses in juvenile male zebra finches during song learning and beyond, we reveal that song imitation accuracy correlates with the structural architecture of four distinct brain areas, none of which pertain to the song control system. Furthermore, the structural properties of a secondary auditory area in the left hemisphere, are capable to predict future song copying accuracy, already at the earliest stages of learning, before initiating vocal practicing. These findings appoint novel brain regions important for song learning outcome and inform that ultimate performance in part depends on fac tors experienced before vocal practicing.