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Nat Commun. 2015 Nov 27;6:8978. doi: 10.1038/ncomms9978.

Universal mechanisms of sound production and control in birds and mammals.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense, Denmark.
2
QuanTM program, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.
3
Université de Saint-Etienne/Lyon, ENES/CNPS CNRS UMR8195, Saint-Etienne 42023, France.
4
Faculty of Science, Department of Biophysics, Voice Research Lab, Palacky University, Olomouc 77146, Czech Republic.
5
Communication and Social Behaviour Group, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen 82319, Germany.
6
Department of Biology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30332, USA.
7
Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332, USA.
8
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery &Traumatology, Odense University Hospital, University of Southern Denmark, Odense 5230, Denmark.

Abstract

As animals vocalize, their vocal organ transforms motor commands into vocalizations for social communication. In birds, the physical mechanisms by which vocalizations are produced and controlled remain unresolved because of the extreme difficulty in obtaining in vivo measurements. Here, we introduce an ex vivo preparation of the avian vocal organ that allows simultaneous high-speed imaging, muscle stimulation and kinematic and acoustic analyses to reveal the mechanisms of vocal production in birds across a wide range of taxa. Remarkably, we show that all species tested employ the myoelastic-aerodynamic (MEAD) mechanism, the same mechanism used to produce human speech. Furthermore, we show substantial redundancy in the control of key vocal parameters ex vivo, suggesting that in vivo vocalizations may also not be specified by unique motor commands. We propose that such motor redundancy can aid vocal learning and is common to MEAD sound production across birds and mammals, including humans.

PMID:
26612008
PMCID:
PMC4674827
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms9978
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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