​Researchers including Luke Remage-Healey Discover Bridge Neurons in the Swamp Sparrow

Researchers including Luke Remage-Healey, psychological and brain sciences, and Jeffrey Podos, biology, report the discovery of sensorimotor “bridge” neurons involved in the imitative bird song learning of the swamp sparrow. The authors explain how these bridge neurons, “simultaneously and selectively represent two critical learning-related schemas: the bird’s own song, and the specific tutor model from which that song was copied. Furthermore, the prevalence and response properties of bridge neurons correlate with learning ability – males that copied tutor songs more accurately had more bridge neurons. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that accurate imitative learning depends on a successful bridge, within single cortical neurons, between the representation of learning models and their sensorimotor copies.”

Nature.com: A neuronal signature of accurate imitative learning in wild-caught songbirds (swamp sparrows, Melospiza georgiana)