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From song to synapse: the neurobiology of vocal communication - Richard Mooney

December 3, 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute Seminar Series Presents

Mooney, Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute

Richard Mooney, PhD

George Barth Geller Professor of Neurobiology
Director of Graduate Studies and Faculty,
Neurobiology Training Program
Duke University

Host: Eddy Albarran (Shatz/Ding Lab)


Vocalizations are an essential medium for social recognition and sexual signaling in mammals and birds.  Whereas many types of vocalizations are innate, including courtship vocalizations of mice, songbirds learn their courtship songs in a process with many parallels to human speech learning. I will discuss recent advances from our lab highlighting the neural mechanisms that enable birdsong learning, including the formation of auditory memories of vocal models, evaluation of song performance, and basal ganglia-dependent vocal exploration and reinforcement. How the learned song is integrated with innate vocalizations will also be considered, with reference to recent studies that genetically map neural circuits for innate vocalizations in mice.

Mooney Lab

Cirriculum vitae

Recent papers

[1] Matthew Gene Kearney, Timothy L. Warren, Erin Hisey, Jiaxuan Qi, Richard Mooney, Discrete Evaluative and Premotor Circuits Enable Vocal Learning in Songbirds, Neuron, November 6, 2019, doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.07.025

[2Masashi Tanaka, Fangmiao Sun, Yulong Li, Richard Mooney, A mesocortical dopamine circuit enables the cultural transmission of vocal behaviour, Nature 563, 117–120, November 2, 2018, doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0636-7

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