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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)
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 tools and a(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)
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)
Birds are one of the most highly successful and diverse groups of vertebrates, having evolved a number of distinct characteristics, including feathers and wings, a sturdy lightweight skeleton and unique respiratory and urinary/excretion systems. However, the genetic basis of these traits is poorly understood. Using comparative genomics based on extensive(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)
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)
The gene encoding cholecystokinin (Cck) is abundantly expressed in the mammalian brain and has been associated with such functions as feeding termination and satiety, locomotion and self-stimulation, the modulation of anxiety-like behaviors, and learning and memory. Here we describe the brain expression and song regulation of Cck in the brain of the adult(More)
Songbirds provide rich natural models for studying the relationships between brain anatomy, behavior, environmental signals, and gene expression. Under the Songbird Neurogenomics Initiative, investigators from 11 laboratories collected brain samples from six species of songbird under a range of experimental conditions, and 488 of these samples were analyzed(More)