Richard Mooney, PhD
George Barth Geller Professor of Neurobiology
Director of Graduate Studies and Faculty,
Neurobiology Training Program
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.
 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
 Masashi 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