Neuroscience

Fox Hunting

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Science  02 Apr 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5667, pp. 18
DOI: 10.1126/science.304.5667.18b

The genomes of humans and nonhuman primates differ by only a few percent, but the consequences are clear: We possess the faculty of language. Although cognitive functions are, as yet, difficult to describe in molecular terms, the linkage of mutations in the transcription factor FoxP2 to deficits in human speech and language has spurred two groups to look at FoxP2 in songbirds, which also display the capacity to modify innate vocalizations. Teramitsu et al. and Haesler et al. both find evidence for a role for FoxP2 (and possibly FoxP1) in vocal learning on the basis of comparing expression patterns in the brains of male and female zebra finches with those in other birds and animals. Of note is the differential expression in subcortical areas that are known to be involved in the integration of sensory input (song) and programmed motor output (singing). — GJC

J. Neurosci. 24, 3152; 3164 (2004).

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