The role of auditory feedback in vocal learning and maintenance.
Auditory experience is critical for the acquisition and maintenance of learned vocalizations in both humans and songbirds. Despite the central role of auditory feedback in vocal learning and maintenance, where and how auditory feedback affects neural circuits important to vocal control remain poorly understood. Recent studies of singing birds have uncovered neural mechanisms by which feedback perturbations affect vocal plasticity and also have identified feedback-sensitive neurons at or near sites of auditory and vocal motor interaction. Additionally, recent studies in marmosets have underscored that even in the absence of vocal learning, vocalization remains flexible in the face of changing acoustical environments, pointing to rapid interactions between auditory and vocal motor systems. Finally, recent studies show that a juvenile songbird's initial auditory experience of a song model has long-lasting effects on sensorimotor neurons important to vocalization, shedding light on how auditory memories and feedback interact to guide vocal learning.
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