Neural Mechanisms for the Coordination of Duet Singing in Wrens

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Science  04 Nov 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6056, pp. 666-670
DOI: 10.1126/science.1209867

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Plain-tailed wrens (Pheugopedius euophrys) cooperate to produce a duet song in which males and females rapidly alternate singing syllables. We examined how sensory information from each wren is used to coordinate singing between individuals for the production of this cooperative behavior. Previous findings in nonduetting songbird species suggest that premotor circuits should encode each bird’s own contribution to the duet. In contrast, we find that both male and female wrens encode the combined cooperative output of the pair of birds. Further, behavior and neurophysiology show that both sexes coordinate the timing of their singing based on feedback from the partner and suggest that females may lead the duet.

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