Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

Moments of Innovation

More to zebra finch than meets the ear

Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 - 01:41

Feb. 3 - The common zebra finch may hold the key to improving the lives of people with speech impediments. Researchers in Denmark are looking closely at the birds' vocalisation anatomy and say there are links between the mechanics of birdsong and human speech that could be exploited for therapeutic purposes. Basmah Fahim has more.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

The zebra finch is a songbird found in warmer climates. It lives near the ground and feeds mainly on grass seeds... although, to scientists at the University of Southern Denmark the finch is most interesting for its ability to sing. To help unlock the secrets of the bird's song, the researchers have produced a high resolution 3d model of the finch's vocal organ, the syrinx. They can now see how the bird translates the impulse to communicate, into song. Led by Dr Coen Elemans, the team says the way the birds learn to sing, is similar to how humans learn to speak. (SOUNDBITE)(English) DR COEN ELEMANS, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN DENMARK, SAYING: "We are very interested in how these animals produce their sounds, because we are very interested in how these animals learn their sounds. Zebra finches sing, the males sing and many of the processes are involved in learning to sing are very similar to the processes involved for humans learning speech." While the neural triggers for birdsong have been studied in the past, the anatomy of the complex physical structures that generate sound are less understood. The images show the structure of the syrinx to be similar to that of the human vocal chord. They also illustrate how the vibrating membranes operate at an extremely high speed producing the trill. (SOUNDBITE)(English) DR COEN ELEMANS, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN DENMARK, SAYING: "These birds also babble when they are babies, they actually have these babbling like songs, and then it crystallizes slowly more into adult song. And that is exactly what we see in humans.'' Given the similarities, Elemens says the research could one day lead to treatments for humans with speech impediments. The team will be conducting new experiments with different species but believe the birds have much to tell.

More to zebra finch than meets the ear

Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 - 01:41

Money »

S&P 500 just shy of record S&P 500 just shy of record

Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - (2:23)

Apple hits $100 a share Apple hits $100 a share

Tue, Aug 19, 2014 - (2:06)

Nasdaq closes at 14-year high Nasdaq closes at 14-year high

Mon, Aug 18, 2014 - (2:23)

Putin puts Wall Street in buying mood Putin puts Wall Street in buying mood

Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - (2:10)

We've become a promotional culture-RetailMeNot's Bodge We've become a promotional...

Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - (4:39)

Dow back to positive territory for year Dow back to positive territory for year

Wed, Aug 13, 2014 - (2:18)

Markets cheer Russia's Ukraine exit Markets cheer Russia's Ukraine exit

Fri, Aug 08, 2014 - (1:50)

Russia, Iraq push Dow to three-month low Russia, Iraq push Dow to three-month low

Thu, Aug 07, 2014 - (2:27)

Wall Street gains but telecom disconnected Wall Street gains but telecom disconnected

Wed, Aug 06, 2014 - (2:28)

Stocks zapped by energy weakness Stocks zapped by energy weakness

Tue, Aug 05, 2014 - (2:46)

Stocks recover with refocus on earnings Stocks recover with refocus on earnings

Mon, Aug 04, 2014 - (2:19)

The Exchange »

The Exchange: Hot commodity The Exchange: Hot commodity

Wed, Jul 16, 2014 - (9:25)

The Exchange: Constitutional crusade The Exchange: Constitutional crusade

Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - (11:35)

The Exchange: The value of money The Exchange: The value of money

Mon, Jun 02, 2014 - (9:53)

The Exchange: China’s Second Continent The Exchange: China’s Second Continent

Tue, May 27, 2014 - (9:35)

The Exchange: A master of business arts The Exchange: A master of business arts

Thu, May 08, 2014 - (8:24)

The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities

Mon, May 05, 2014 - (8:52)

The Exchange: Let the rocking commence The Exchange: Let the rocking commence

Tue, Apr 08, 2014 - (8:13)

The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies

Mon, Mar 24, 2014 - (9:54)

Is doing good a good business? Is doing good a good business?

Mon, Mar 17, 2014 - (7:38)

Reuters Investigates »

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (13:21)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, Aug 05, 2013 - (1:36)

How education lost its role as the great equalizer - Reuters Investigates How education lost its role as the great...

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - (7:52)

Jihad Jane: From abused child to American jihadist - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: From abused child to American...

Sat, Dec 08, 2012 - (10:01)

Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters...

Sun, Dec 09, 2012 - (10:39)

Moving Pictures »

"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay "Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay

Mon, Aug 11, 2014 - (2:27)

Burned memories Burned memories

Fri, Aug 08, 2014 - (3:02)

Images of July Images of July

Thu, Jul 31, 2014 - (1:20)

World Cup: passion on the pitch World Cup: passion on the pitch

Fri, Jul 11, 2014 - (1:00)

A refugee in America gives back A refugee in America gives back

Wed, Jul 02, 2014 - (3:25)

A long search for refuge A long search for refuge

Fri, Jun 20, 2014 - (3:04)

World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals

Fri, Jun 06, 2014 - (1:08)

VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light

Fri, May 30, 2014 - (1:37)

The week that changed Boston The week that changed Boston

Mon, Apr 14, 2014 - (3:28)