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February 7, 2011

Brain Imaging--Vocal Learning (Image 3)

High-resolution in vivo image of neurons and associated dendritic spines in the brain of a juvenile songbird during the initial stages of song learning.

The birds were used in a study by researchers at Duke University Medical Center in which the findings provided fundamental insight into how the brain changes in juvenile male songbirds during critical periods for behavioral learning. The researchers wanted to see what would happen to the connections between nerve cells, or synapses, in a part of the brain where the motor commands for song are thought to originate. They employed high-resolution imaging to track changes to individual dendritic spines--important points of contact between nerve cells.

To learn more about the study, see the Duke University news story "Scientists Image Brain at Point When Vocal Learning Begins." [Study supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation.] (Date of Image: 2008-2009) [Image 3 of 3 related images. Back to Image 1.]

Credit: Image by Todd Roberts, Duke University Medical Center

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