The role of auditory feedback in birdsong

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Jun;1016:463-75. doi: 10.1196/annals.1298.010.


Young songbirds memorize a tutor song and use the memory trace as a template to shape their own song by auditory feedback. Major issues in birdsong research include the neural sites and mechanisms for song memory and auditory feedback. The brain song control system contains neurons with both premotor and auditory function. Yet no evidence so far shows that they respond to the bird's own song during singing. Also, no neurons have been found to respond to perturbation of auditory feedback in the brain area that is thought to be involved in the feedback control of song. The phenomenon of gating in which neurons respond to playback of the bird's own song only during sleep or under anesthesia is the sole known evidence for control of auditory input to the song system. It is, however, not known whether the gating is involved in switching between the premotor and auditory function of neurons in the song control system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Feedback*
  • Hearing*
  • Memory
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Prosencephalon / physiology
  • Songbirds / physiology*
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*