A framework for integrating the songbird brain

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2002 Dec;188(11-12):961-80. doi: 10.1007/s00359-002-0358-y. Epub 2002 Nov 15.


Biological systems by default involve complex components with complex relationships. To decipher how biological systems work, we assume that one needs to integrate information over multiple levels of complexity. The songbird vocal communication system is ideal for such integration due to many years of ethological investigation and a discreet dedicated brain network. Here we announce the beginnings of a songbird brain integrative project that involves high-throughput, molecular, anatomical, electrophysiological and behavioral levels of analysis. We first formed a rationale for inclusion of specific biological levels of analysis, then developed high-throughput molecular technologies on songbird brains, developed technologies for combined analysis of electrophysiological activity and gene regulation in awake behaving animals, and developed bioinformatic tools that predict causal interactions within and between biological levels of organization. This integrative brain project is fitting for the interdisciplinary approaches taken in the current songbird issue of the Journal of Comparative Physiology A and is expected to be conducive to deciphering how brains generate and perceive complex behaviors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Computational Biology
  • Computer Simulation
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Electrophysiology
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Library
  • Learning
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Nerve Net
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Songbirds / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors