Fish may have taught us how to make a sound

July 23rd, 2008 - 11:21 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 23 (IANS) Human speech skills and possibly all sound production in vertebrates could be traced back to similar abilities in fish, according to a study by US researchers. Researchers from Cornell University mapped developing brain cells in newly hatched midshipman fish larvae and compared them to those of other species and found that the neural network behind sound production in vertebrates could be traced back to an era long before the first animals ventured onto dry land.

With laser-scanning confocal microscopy, the research team observed clusters of cells in the larvae’s developing hindbrain as they formed connections and grew into the networks that control vocalization in mature fish, reported.

On comparing the system to the neural circuitry behind vocalization in amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals, including primates, the researchers found that though the networks vary in complexity their fundamental attributes are the same.

“Fish have all the same parts of the brain that you do,” said Andrew Bass, who led the research.

The finding puts human speech - and social communications of all vertebrates - in evolutionary context, he added.

The finding was published in the July 18 issue of the journal Science.

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