Reuters - Video

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

In Depth

More to zebra finch than meets the ear

Sunday, 03 Feb, 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, 03 Feb, 2013 - 01:41

Editors' Picks »

The Exchange »

The Exchange: Hot commodity The Exchange: Hot commodity

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

The Exchange: Constitutional crusade The Exchange: Constitutional crusade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oddly Enough »

Is it a plane? No, it's a hoverbike Is it a plane? No, it's a hoverbike

Fri, 22 Aug, 2014 - (2:40)

Fox kicks off "Simpsons" mega marathon Fox kicks off "Simpsons" mega marathon

Thu, 21 Aug, 2014 - (0:56)

Six-story tall duck floats into L.A. port Six-story tall duck floats into L.A. port

Thu, 21 Aug, 2014 - (1:02)

Young artist paints surreal illusions on bodies Young artist paints surreal illusions on...

Thu, 21 Aug, 2014 - (1:30)

Snow leopard cubs make Bronx Zoo debut Snow leopard cubs make Bronx Zoo debut

Wed, 20 Aug, 2014 - (0:41)

Eco-friendly bench keeps your tech fully charged Eco-friendly bench keeps your tech fully...

Tue, 19 Aug, 2014 - (1:55)

A cheetah cub and a puppy make friends A cheetah cub and a puppy make friends

Tue, 19 Aug, 2014 - (0:48)

Bug eaters unite in Tokyo Bug eaters unite in Tokyo

Tue, 19 Aug, 2014 - (1:23)

Tango dancers put best feet forward Tango dancers put best feet forward

Tue, 19 Aug, 2014 - (1:08)

Giraffe calf checks out new surroundings Giraffe calf checks out new surroundings

Mon, 18 Aug, 2014 - (0:42)

Bolivian priest blesses beloved pups Bolivian priest blesses beloved pups

Sun, 17 Aug, 2014 - (1:25)

Reuters Investigates »

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sun, 09 Dec, 2012 - (10:01)

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

Mon, 10 Dec, 2012 - (10:39)

Moving Pictures »

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

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

Burned memories Burned memories

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

Images of July Images of July

Fri, 01 Aug, 2014 - (1:20)

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

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

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

Thu, 03 Jul, 2014 - (3:25)

A long search for refuge A long search for refuge

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

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

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

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

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

The week that changed Boston The week that changed Boston

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