Finches use their own form of grammar in their tweets

Finches use their own form of grammar in their tweets
Fawn Society Finches. Image: Wikipedia.

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a recent study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers from the University of Kyoto in Japan have discovered that the tweets of Bengalese finches follow a set of grammatical patterns and rules.

Finches in the wild will react and call back when they hear unfamiliar songs that are usually from intruding finches. Dr. Kentaro Abe and Dai Watanabe used this reaction to test the finches.

They began by playing songs to the finches that were unfamiliar. They played the songs over a period of time until the birds stopped reacting and were used to the new . They then mixed the order of the syllables within the songs and replayed them to the finches. When one of the remixes, named SEQ2, was played almost 90 percent of the birds erupted in response, however the other remixes received no reaction. What the researchers determined was that the in a particular social community seem to have some sort of syllable order that must be present within their songs.

In another experiment, the researchers showed that the knowledge of this syllable order is not innate and must be learned. He tested birds that had been raised alone and they showed no response to SEQ2. However, after the isolated birds had spent two weeks with the other birds, they too then showed a reaction.

Another experiment showed that the birds were able to learn ‘new’ grammatical rules if the team played one of the remixes over and over again. Once these birds had learned the new rules, mixing the syllables up again found the birds reacting to a change in the syllable structure.

In a final experiment, Abe and his team chemically shut down an area of the finch brain known as the anterior nidopallium in some of the . This area of the brain is vital for the bird’s ability to understand the grammatical pattern in the . He suggests that using this information, and studying the counterpart section of the human brain, could shed new light on the origins of human grammar.


Explore further

The Link Between Birdsong And Human Language

More information: Songbirds possess the spontaneous ability to discriminate syntactic rules, Nature Neuroscience (2011) doi:10.1038/nn.2869

Abstract
Whether the computational systems in language perception involve specific abilities in humans is debated. The vocalizations of songbirds share many features with human speech, but whether songbirds possess a similar computational ability to process auditory information as humans is unknown. We analyzed their spontaneous discrimination of auditory stimuli and found that the Bengalese finch (Lonchura striata var. domestica) can use the syntactical information processing of syllables to discriminate songs). These finches were also able to acquire artificial grammatical rules from synthesized syllable strings and to discriminate novel auditory information according to them. We found that a specific brain region was involved in such discrimination and that this ability was acquired postnatally through the encounter with various conspecific songs. Our results indicate that passerine songbirds spontaneously acquire the ability to process hierarchical structures, an ability that was previously supposed to be specific to humans.

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Citation: Finches use their own form of grammar in their tweets (2011, June 28) retrieved 21 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-06-finches-grammar-tweets.html
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Jun 28, 2011
We are almost there. 10 to 15 years down the road we will recognize that language is not specific to the human species after all.

Jun 28, 2011
And think of all the wonderful things we will discover when we learn to listen and understand other life.

"The scientist does not study nature because it is useful, he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living."

Henri Poincaré

Jun 28, 2011
We are almost there. 10 to 15 years down the road we will recognize that language is not specific to the human species after all.

We are already there. Koko the signing gorilla, Dr. John Lilly's dolphins, a border collie that recognizes over 1,000 words, African grey parrots that use words correctly, and many others I'm sure. What we must learn to accept is that consciousness is not exclusive to humans nor the right to humane treatment.

Jun 29, 2011
There is little distinction between the mechanics of sounds and the mechanics of hearing. The origins of grammar come from the origins of language. The origins of language come from the origins of sound. And the properties of sound are innate and intrinsic, unlike language and grammar.
Yes. And the sound of your own babbling is music to your ears.

You are SO full of shit. I can sense that you really WANT to say something meaningful. Alas, all you post is drivel.
The 'knowledge' of sound, (it's order and structure) is innate and intrinsic. You can not teach hearing. There is nothing 'learned'. Nature's evolution of life brings forth
'solutions' to sound
-For instance, is sound some kind of evolutionary 'riddle' in search of a 'solution'? And this 'order' of sound - do you think you can actually describe this thing without using equally empty terms?

You think posturing with phrases which SOUND like a carl sagan monologue can replace your actually SAYING something?

Jun 30, 2011
Stop embarrassing yourself with ad hominems towards me.
Who is embarrassing themselves?
There is little distinction between the mechanics of sounds and the mechanics of hearing.
???
The origins of grammar come from the origins of language.
???
The origins of language come from the origins of sound.
WTF???
And the properties of sound are innate and intrinsic, unlike language and grammar.
You write crap. This was only one paragraph out of an entire post full of CRAP.
The is call Fourier Transformation. For sound
Your name dropping does not add substance to your nonsense.

I'm performing a community service here.

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