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 Basis für neue medikamentöse Therapie bei Demenz
27.07.2017 | Medizinische Hochschule Hannover

nachricht Biochemiker entschlüsseln Zusammenspiel von Enzym-Domänen während der Katalyse
27.07.2017 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

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: Physiker designen ultrascharfe Pulse

Quantenphysiker um Oriol Romero-Isart haben einen einfachen Aufbau entworfen, mit dem theoretisch beliebig stark fokussierte elektromagnetische Felder erzeugt werden können. Anwendung finden könnte das neue Verfahren zum Beispiel in der Mikroskopie oder für besonders empfindliche Sensoren.

Mikrowellen, Wärmestrahlung, Licht und Röntgenstrahlung sind Beispiele für elektromagnetische Wellen. Für viele Anwendungen ist es notwendig, diese Strahlung...

Im Focus: Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses

Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.

Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...

Im Focus: Navigationssystem der Hirnzellen entschlüsselt

Das menschliche Gehirn besteht aus etwa hundert Milliarden Nervenzellen. Informationen zwischen ihnen werden über ein komplexes Netzwerk aus Nervenfasern übermittelt. Verdrahtet werden die meisten dieser Verbindungen vor der Geburt nach einem genetischen Bauplan, also ohne dass äußere Einflüsse eine Rolle spielen. Mehr darüber, wie das Navigationssystem funktioniert, das die Axone beim Wachstum leitet, haben jetzt Forscher des Karlsruher Instituts für Technologie (KIT) herausgefunden. Das berichten sie im Fachmagazin eLife.

Die Gesamtlänge des Nervenfasernetzes im Gehirn beträgt etwa 500.000 Kilometer, mehr als die Entfernung zwischen Erde und Mond. Damit es beim Verdrahten der...

Im Focus: Kohlenstoff-Nanoröhrchen verwandeln Strom in leuchtende Quasiteilchen

Starke Licht-Materie-Kopplung in diesen halbleitenden Röhrchen könnte zu elektrisch gepumpten Lasern führen

Auch durch Anregung mit Strom ist die Erzeugung von leuchtenden Quasiteilchen aus Licht und Materie in halbleitenden Kohlenstoff-Nanoröhrchen möglich....

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

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

10. Uelzener Forum: Demografischer Wandel und Digitalisierung

26.07.2017 | Veranstaltungen

Clash of Realities 2017: Anmeldung jetzt möglich. Internationale Konferenz an der TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Veranstaltungen

2. Spitzentreffen »Industrie 4.0 live«

25.07.2017 | Veranstaltungen

 
VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Basis für neue medikamentöse Therapie bei Demenz

27.07.2017 | Biowissenschaften Chemie

Aus Potenzial Erfolge machen: 30 Rittaler schließen Nachqualifizierung erfolgreich ab

27.07.2017 | Unternehmensmeldung

Biochemiker entschlüsseln Zusammenspiel von Enzym-Domänen während der Katalyse

27.07.2017 | Biowissenschaften Chemie