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Nature. 2005 Feb 17;433(7027):710-6.

How sleep affects the developmental learning of bird song.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, City College, City University of New York, New York 10031, USA. sderegna@sci.ccny.cuny.edu

Abstract

Sleep affects learning and development in humans and other animals, but the role of sleep in developmental learning has never been examined. Here we show the effects of night-sleep on song development in the zebra finch by recording and analysing the entire song ontogeny. During periods of rapid learning we observed a pronounced deterioration in song structure after night-sleep. The song regained structure after intense morning singing. Daily improvement in similarity to the tutored song occurred during the late phase of this morning recovery; little further improvement occurred thereafter. Furthermore, birds that showed stronger post-sleep deterioration during development achieved a better final imitation. The effect diminished with age. Our experiments showed that these oscillations were not a result of sleep inertia or lack of practice, indicating the possible involvement of an active process, perhaps neural song-replay during sleep. We suggest that these oscillations correspond to competing demands of plasticity and consolidation during learning, creating repeated opportunities to reshape previously learned motor skills.

PMID:
15716944
DOI:
10.1038/nature03275
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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