Sensitive periods and circuits for learned birdsong

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1999 Feb;9(1):121-7. doi: 10.1016/s0959-4388(99)80015-4.


Experience influences the development of certain behaviors and their associated neural circuits during a discrete period after birth. Songbirds, with their highly quantifiable vocal output and well-delineated vocal control circuitry, provide an excellent context in which to examine the neural mechanisms regulating sensitive periods for learning. Recent discoveries indicate that auditory input to the vocal control circuitry in songbirds is dynamically modulated and show that neural circuitry previously thought to be used only in plastic juvenile song may also actively maintain stable adult song. These findings provide important clues to how sensitive periods for auditory feedback and vocal plasticity are regulated during song development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Songbirds / anatomy & histology
  • Songbirds / physiology*