Quick: Think of a highly social animal species that teaches its young to communicate in beautiful and complex ways. Most people would probably think first of humans, but Stephanie White pictures a zebra finch, a small bird with a bright orange beak and a trilling courtship song.
White, associate professor of integrative biology and physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, studies the expression of language-related genes in the zebra finch.
In a video interview at the 2011 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, D.C., White discussed how birdsong is like language, and why researchers are becoming interested in studying species such as the zebra finch to help understand language difficulties in autism.
For more reports from the 2011 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, please click here.