October 2, 2009
Zebra finch DNA altered for neuron studies
Altering the DNA of a zebra finch could reveal the process of vocal learning in vertebrate brains, scientists at New York's Rockefeller University say.
The zebra finch is one of several of its species that learn to
speak by imitating other zebra finches, said Fernando Nottebohm, who heads the Laboratory of Animal Behavior at Rockefeller University.
Nottebohm's team injected finch embryos with genes that produce green fluorescent protein in cells throughout the body. Those birds passed the glowing genes along to their offspring, giving scientists a way to trace neural circuitry in the zebra finches.
Ultimately, you have to understand how things are working at the most basic molecular level, and this will take our research there.