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Trends Neurosci. 2005 Jul;28(7):353-63.

Birdbrains could teach basal ganglia research a new song.

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Department of Psychiatry and Physiology, UCSF, San Francisco, CA 94143-0444, USA.


Recent advances in anatomical, physiological and histochemical characterization of avian basal ganglia neurons and circuitry have revealed remarkable similarities to mammalian basal ganglia. A modern revision of the avian anatomical nomenclature has now provided a common language for studying the function of the cortical-basal-ganglia-cortical loop, enabling neuroscientists to take advantage of the specialization of basal ganglia areas in various avian species. For instance, songbirds, which learn their vocal motor behavior using sensory feedback, have specialized a portion of their cortical-basal ganglia circuitry for song learning and production. This discrete circuit dedicated to a specific sensorimotor task could be especially tractable for elucidating the interwoven sensory, motor and reward signals carried by basal ganglia, and the function of these signals in task learning and execution.

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