Songbirds act as one when they sing together, new study suggests!

We have often seen jazz singers performing a duet, paired-up terpsichoreans never ricocheting a level: famous performers are so coordinated, they become one. So what are the tools that control coordination and interaction? Neurobiologists are discovering more from some of nature’s leading artistic musicians: songbirds.

Songbirds have their brain interlinked with each other during the performances, according to the new study issued by  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. According to the news articles, the exchange of this auditory feedback between the birds results from momentary movements of motor circuits. These circuits are interlinked with the singing partner and, in return, link the songbirds’ brains.

Thus, brain and motor circuits coordinate with each other to provide a seemingly telepathic performance. However, according to study coauthor Eric Fortune, a neurobiologist and associate professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology’s department of biological sciences, coordination is not telepathy or magic. 

“The male’s brain has expectations of what the female brain is going to do. The female brain has expectations of what the male brain is going to do. And when they start operating together, they’re tied,” Fortune added.

In another study, brains of male and female plain-tailed wrens — a species endemic to the Andes region, living in bamboo thickets-were sent for analysis to confirm coordination theory. 

Scientists also coordinated songbirds’ brain area specifically known to control the bird’s coordination with her partner in singing a duet. While these birds sing, the brian electric signals are much thinner than a hair follicle. When songbirds start singing there neuron activity increases, but when she hears her partner sing, the brain activity is slow or none.

“Often times, what happens is after you have inhibition, you have a rebound, and that rebound can change the timing of your own behavior,” he said.

Experts compare this activity to a trampoline where while we come down after bouncing, the movement is slow, but when we rise, there is pressure. Scientists also compare the duet of birds to the human conversation when one person stops talking, the second immediately talks, which is called coordination.  

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