[va-richmond-general] Interesting from the New York Times on birdsong

  • From: "Kathleen Kreutzer" <k-kreutzer@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <va-richmond-general@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2013 14:55:13 -0500

December 31, 2012

Birds Found to Have Emotional Reactions to Song


The human brain responds to music in different ways, depending on the
listener's emotional reaction, among other things. Now researchers report
that the same holds true for birds listening to birdsong. 

"The same regions that respond to music in humans, at least the areas that
can also be found in the bird brain, responded to song in our sparrows,"
said an author of the new report, Donna Maney, a neuroscientist at Emory

Primed with estrogen to simulate their state during breeding, female
white-throated sparrows responded to the songs of male sparrows in the same
way as humans listening to pleasant music, she said. Females in a
nonbreeding state responded no differently to birdsong than to generic tones
of the same frequencies. 

"So during breeding season, birdsong is received differently by females,"
Dr. Maney said. 

Moreover, male birds treated with testosterone showed a response in the
amygdala, the brain's emotional center, when they heard other males singing.

The response is akin to the reaction humans have when they hear the sort of
music used in a scary movie scene. "If you're a male and you hear the song,
it means that you're invading territory or being invaded," Dr. Maney said.
"It's an aggressive signal." 

She and her co-author, Sarah Earp, report their findings
14/full>  in the journal Frontiers in
<http://www.frontiersin.org/Evolutionary_Neuroscience> Evolutionary
Neuroscience. Ms. Earp came up with the idea for the study as an Emory
undergraduate studying music and neuroscience. She is a medical student at
the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. 

Male white-throated sparrows responded to other males.

JPEG image

Other related posts:

  • » [va-richmond-general] Interesting from the New York Times on birdsong - Kathleen Kreutzer