For decades, zebra finches, a kind of songbird,
have been considered as the model organisms of choice for studying complex vocal behaviors. The song birds' song learning and memory shares similarities with language learning in humans. Surprisingly humans and songbirds share common similarities in song systems in their brain. This is wonderful since they proceed with different evolutionary pathways. This similarity helps to understand human vocal system, memory and sensor integration by studying song birds. Furthermore, studying and identification of brain nuclei involved in vocal-motor activities in the birds provide insights for neuroscience of speech disorders and even language.
In addition, studying visual Wulst of birds is another interesting research area which enables researchers to understand control mechanisms involved in bird flights. Visual attention of the birds during their flights, optical flow, perceived by the birds and mechanisms involved for revisiting locations makes us postulate hypotheses about three dimensional embedding and environment mapping of the birds.
The bird garden project aims to study small bird behavior and neural function in a habitat that facilitates natural behaviors such as free flight food seeking and breeding as well as uninterrupted social interaction. The garden will be equipped with real time monitoring and feedback system for avian behavioral and neural monitoring and manipulation. This is part of our strategic plan to extends the diversity of our animal models to facilitate comparative and evolutionary neuroscience research and to open research opportunities in studying vocal behaviors and language understanding as well as flight mechanisms and three dimensional navigation. The current focus of the project will be on small birds such as zebra finches.
khademian [at] ipm [dot] ir
amirrezakazemi [at] ipm [dot]ir