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Human language and birdsong both acquired through stepwise imitation

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Songbirds and humans both learn to vocalize by imitation and produce their respective sounds in much the same way, by arranging syllables into sequences. Very little is known, however, about how this ability arises during development. Kazuo Okanoya from the Laboratory for Biolinguistics at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, as part of collaboration with a research team from the City University of New York, have now shown that humans and songbirds also acquire their vocalization skills in the same way—by learning new combinations of syllables in a stepwise manner.

 

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