The Song Does Not Remain the Same

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Science  30 Mar 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5513, pp. 2559-2561
DOI: 10.1126/science.1060338

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How do young birds learn to sing so eloquently? Two models--selectional and instructional--have emerged to explain vocal learning in song birds. In his Perspective, Margoliash describes an elegant series of experiments that have allowed the early stages of vocal learning in juvenile male zebra finches to be dissected ( Tchernichovski et al. ). As he explains, the trajectory of vocal development in songbirds contains several surprising twists including the fact that it may depend on both selectional and instructional processes.