Using temperature to analyse temporal dynamics in the songbird motor pathway

Michael A. Long & Michale S. Fee

McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT

MIT researchers have located a ‘clock’ within the brain that controls the timing of bird song. By cooling this brain region (termed HVC or ‘high vocal center’) they were able to slow the tempo of the song without affecting its pitch or rhythmic structure. The cooling technology can help scientists understand how the brain controls the timing of other complex behaviors, something that has been difficult to study until now. Go to http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/brain-timing-1112.html for details.

Control Song (normal body temperature)

         

Stretched Song (HVC cooled by 8.2° C)