The Healey Lab studies the electrophysiological and neurochemical phenomena that govern natural behavior. It focuses on songbirds because of their many biological/behavioral parallels with humans. Many of these phenomena are readily accessible in the laboratory, including lifelong pairbonds, biparental care, vocal learning and widespread production of steroid hormones in the brain.
The lab's work and the work of its collaborators have demonstrated that the neurobiological and neuroendocrine mechanisms of social bonding are conserved between songbirds and mammals. These observations, together with the ability to conduct rigorous experimental studies, make songbirds an attractive system for future research on stress and social behaviors.