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The zebra finch is an important model organism in several fields with unique relevance to human neuroscience. Like other songbirds, the zebra finch communicates through learned vocalizations, an ability otherwise documented only in humans and a few other animals and lacking in the chicken-the only bird with a sequenced genome until now. Here we present a(More)
To better determine the history of modern birds, we performed a genome-scale phylogenetic analysis of 48 species representing all orders of Neoaves using phylogenomic methods created to handle genome-scale data. We recovered a highly resolved tree that confirms previously controversial sister or close relationships. We identified the first divergence in(More)
The oscine song system, a set of interconnected brain nuclei involved in song production and learning, is one of the first and clearest examples of brain sexual dimorphism in a vertebrate, being typically well-developed in males, but not females. Here we present evidence for a sexual dimorphism in the caudomedial nidopallidum (NCM), an auditory area outside(More)
BACKGROUND Songbirds hold great promise for biomedical, environmental and evolutionary research. A complete draft sequence of the zebra finch genome is imminent, yet a need remains for application of genomic resources within a research community traditionally focused on ethology and neurobiological methods. In response, we developed a core set of genomic(More)
Song-learning birds and humans share independently evolved similarities in brain pathways for vocal learning that are essential for song and speech and are not found in most other species. Comparisons of brain transcriptomes of song-learning birds and humans relative to vocal nonlearners identified convergent gene expression specializations in specific song(More)
BACKGROUND Vocal learning is a rare and complex behavioral trait that serves as a basis for the acquisition of human spoken language. In songbirds, vocal learning and production depend on a set of specialized brain nuclei known as the song system. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS Using high-throughput functional genomics we have identified approximately 200(More)
We describe a set of new comprehensive, high-quality, high-resolution digital images of histological sections from the brain of male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) and make them publicly available through an interactive website (http://zebrafinch.brainarchitecture.org/). These images provide a basis for the production of a dimensionally accurate and(More)
A fundamental question in molecular neurobiology is how genes that determine basic neuronal properties shape the functional organization of brain circuits underlying complex learned behaviors. Given the growing availability of complete vertebrate genomes, comparative genomics represents a promising approach to address this question. Here we used genomics(More)
Genes encoding protein kinases tend to evolve slowly over evolutionary time, and only rarely do they appear as recent duplications in sequenced vertebrate genomes. Consequently, it was a surprise to find two families of kinase genes that have greatly and recently expanded in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) lineage. In contrast to other amniotic(More)
Although adrenal glucocorticoids cortisol and corticosterone (CORT) have numerous "genomic" effects on adrenomedullary chromaffin cells, acute modulatory actions remain largely unknown, despite rapid stress-related changes in secretion. We report that 1 microM glucocorticoids rapidly modulate gating of chromaffin cell BK channels and action potential(More)