Songbirds, Learning, and Human Diseases

The research of Jesse H. Goldberg, assistant professor and Robert R. Capranica Fellow in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, is explored in this recent Cornell Research story.

The story says that Goldberg’s research seeks to answer, “what does how baby songbirds learn to sing have to do with human diseases, affecting how people control variability in their thoughts or actions?”

"Goldberg first had the idea to turn song birds into a model system for medical research after reading about a breakthrough in brain research conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,” the story says.  

Goldberg was interested in diseases that can affect how people control variability in their thoughts or actions such as Schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease, and dystonia.  

“But rather than thinking of these diseases as causing a deficit,” Goldberg says in the story, “maybe what’s going on is that there’s a variability generator that can either be cranked up and not controlled, or underactive.”

“If we can identify the sources of variability in movement, they are likely to have the same origins in the brain as the ones that control cognition,” Goldberg says in the story. “I think there’s no such thing as a psychiatric disease or a neurological disease. There’s no differentiation. They’re all neuropsychiatric.”

Read the full Cornell Research story here.

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Small brown bird, singing