Monday, November 29, 1999

Songbirds learn while asleep

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London, June 17 (IANS) Zebra finches learn their songs early in life even while asleep -- similar to the way children learn how to speak, research significant to our understanding of the brain processes has revealed.Biologists at Utrecht University (UofU), in the Netherlands, have concluded that their research will increase our understanding of the role of sleep in the formation of memory. Furthermore, language learning in children is improved when they are allowed to take a nap.This discovery has important consequences for our understanding of the brain processes involved in learning and memory. It also makes songbirds a good model to study the role of sleep in human speech acquisition.Human infants learning to speak show increased activation in a part of the brain that is comparable to that studied in young zebra finches.In songbirds it had been shown previously that during sleep the brain has the same pattern of activity as during singing the day before, said a UofU release.

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