Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

Mice don’t need the cortex to sing their songs

06.03.2015

Goettingen scientists question the utility of mice to explore the foundations of vocal learning

The human language is unique in that we can refer to objects, events and ideas. The combination of syllables and words enables humans to generate an infinite number of expressions. An important prerequisite for language is the ability to imitate sounds, i.e. to store acquired acoustic information and to use this for one’s own vocal production.


Mice lacking the cerebral cortex develop normal song.

Image: Kurt Hammerschmidt

Cortical structures in the brain play a crucial role in this. While songbirds and certain marine mammals are capable of such vocal learning, there is very little evidence for vocal learning in terrestrial mammals – not even in our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees. Nonhuman primate vocal production is largely restricted to an innate repertoire of sounds. In order to explain the foundations of vocal learning, mice attracted increasing attention in recent years.

They are more closely related to humans than birds or dolphins, vocalize frequently, and there are numerous so-called "mouse models", where certain genes can deliberately be manipulated. Besides, there was some evidence that to a certain extent mice could be capable of vocal learning. In their recently published study, Julia Fischer and Kurt Hammerschmidt of the German Primate Center (DPZ) in Goettingen together with colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry have shown that mice are less suited to study the foundations of vocal learning than previously assumed. Animals that do not have a cerebral cortex due to a genetic defect do not differ from healthy mice in their vocalization (“song”). Their vocalizations are thus controlled in evolutionarily older brain areas and are not dependent on cortical processing (Published in Scientific Reports).

One of the most pressing questions in human evolution is the emergence of language. We have the ability to imitate words and learn how to use them in certain appropriate situations. Both for higher-order processing of sounds as well as for the planning of vocalizations, the cerebral cortex is essential. There are numerous studies of songbirds, bats, and increasingly of mice that deal with the fundamentals of vocal learning. However, the studies in mice are currently contradictory: It was previously disputed as to whether mice are able to change their vocalization due to imitation or learning. Together with Gregor Eichele and Gabriela Whelan of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Julia Fischer and Kurt Hammerschmidt of the German Primate Center examined the ultrasonic sounds of mice that did not have a cerebral cortex due to a genetic defect and compared these with the sounds of their siblings with a normal brain.

The researchers focused on two characteristic vocalizations of the mice. First, they examined so-called isolation calls that occur when young mice are separated from the mother. Since nine-day-old mice that were still incapable of hearing made these calls, Fischer and her colleagues were not surprised that the calls of the mice without a cerebral cortex did not differ from those of control mice. Second, they studied the “song” of adult males, which is used to attract females. The fact that there was no difference in neither the occurrence of calling nor the acoustic quality of the songs uttered by males with and without cerebral cortex, was a rather unexpected findings for the scientists.

„Apparently, the vocalization of mice is controlled by evolutionarily older areas of the brain," says Julia Fischer, Head of Cognitive Ethology Laboratory at the German Primate Center. Other than in humans, the cerebral cortex is not as important in the vocal communication of mice. "Mice are therefore less suitable for the study of the mechanisms that support vocal learning", she concluded. “Nevertheless, we believe that they are valuable models for the study of the genetic fundamentals of social behavior”, she added.

Original publication

Hammerschmidt, K., Whelan, G., Eichele, G. & Fischer, J. Mice lacking the cerebral cortex develop normal song: Insights into the foundations of vocal learning. Sci. Rep. 5, 8808, DOI:10.1038/srep08808 (2015).

Contact

Prof. Dr. Julia Fischer
Tel.: +49 551 3851-375
E-mail: jfischer@dpz.eu

Dr. Susanne Diederich (PR)
Tel: +49 551 3851-359
E-mail: sdiederich@dpz.eu

Printable pictures are available in our Media library. We kindly request a specimen copy in case of publication.

The German Primate Center (DPZ) – Leibniz Institute for Primate Research conducts biological and biomedical research on and with primates in the fields of infection research, neuroscience and primate biology. The DPZ maintains four field stations in the tropics and is the reference and service center for all aspects of primate research. The DPZ is one of 89 research and infrastructure facilities of the Leibniz Association.

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.dpz.eu - Webpage of the German Primate Center
http://www.dpz.eu/en/unit/cognitive-ethology/about-us.html - Cognitive Ethology Laboratory, German Primate Center
https://www.mpibpc.mpg.de/eichele - Gregor Eichele, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry

Dr. Susanne Diederich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Weitere Nachrichten aus der Kategorie Biowissenschaften Chemie:

nachricht Wie Medikamente als Virus getarnt gegen Krebs wirken können
28.02.2017 | Australisch-Neuseeländischer Hochschulverbund / Institut Ranke-Heinemann

nachricht Fische als Ton-Ingenieure
28.02.2017 | Universität Regensburg

Alle Nachrichten aus der Kategorie: Biowissenschaften Chemie >>>

Die aktuellsten Pressemeldungen zum Suchbegriff Innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mit Künstlicher Intelligenz das Gehirn verstehen

Wie entsteht Bewusstsein? Die Antwort auf diese Frage, so vermuten Forscher, steckt in den Verbindungen zwischen den Nervenzellen. Leider ist jedoch kaum etwas über den Schaltplan des Gehirns bekannt.

Wie entsteht Bewusstsein? Die Antwort auf diese Frage, so vermuten Forscher, steckt in den Verbindungen zwischen den Nervenzellen. Leider ist jedoch kaum etwas...

Im Focus: Wie Proteine Zellmembranen verformen

Zellen schnüren regelmäßig kleine Bläschen von ihrer Außenhaut ab und nehmen sie in ihr Inneres auf. Daran sind die EHD-Proteine beteiligt, die Professor Oliver Daumke vom MDC erforscht. Er und sein Team haben nun aufgeklärt, wie sich diese Proteine auf der Oberfläche von Zellen zusammenlagern und dadurch deren Außenhaut verformen.

Zellen schnüren regelmäßig kleine Bläschen von ihrer Außenhaut ab und nehmen sie in ihr Inneres auf. Daran sind die EHD-Proteine beteiligt, die Professor...

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: „Vernetzte Autonome Systeme“ von acatech und DFKI auf der CeBIT

Auf der IT-Messe CeBIT vom 20. bis 24. März präsentieren acatech – Deutsche Akademie der Technikwissenschaften und das Deutsche Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz (DFKI) in Kooperation mit der Deutschen Messe AG vernetzte Autonome Systeme. In Halle 12 am Stand B 63 erwarten die Besucherinnen und Besucher unter anderem Roboter, die Hand in Hand mit Menschen zusammenarbeiten oder die selbstständig gefährliche Umgebungen erkunden.

Auf der IT-Messe CeBIT vom 20. bis 24. März präsentieren acatech – Deutsche Akademie der Technikwissenschaften und das Deutsche Forschungszentrum für...

Im Focus: Kühler Zwerg und die sieben Planeten

Erdgroße Planeten mit gemäßigtem Klima in System mit ungewöhnlich vielen Planeten entdeckt

In einer Entfernung von nur 40 Lichtjahren haben Astronomen ein System aus sieben erdgroßen Planeten entdeckt. Alle Planeten wurden unter Verwendung von boden-...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics
Veranstaltungen

Nebennierentumoren: Radioaktiv markierte Substanzen vermeiden unnötige Operationen

28.02.2017 | Veranstaltungen

350 Onlineforscher_innen treffen sich zur Fachkonferenz General Online Research an der HTW Berlin

28.02.2017 | Veranstaltungen

23. VDMA-Arbeitsberatung „Engineering und Konstruktion“ am 2. März 2017 an der TH Wildau

28.02.2017 | Veranstaltungen

 
VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Wasserkreislauf reicht viel tiefer als bisher gedacht

28.02.2017 | Geowissenschaften

Leuchtende Blasen in freier Wildbahn

28.02.2017 | Physik Astronomie

Eine Atomfalle für die Wasserdatierung

28.02.2017 | Geowissenschaften