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Researching Drinking Songs of Drunken Songbirds

The Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans is — at least in part — about wine, warblers, and song. This poster is that part (or part of that part):

Drinking songs: The efficacy of songbirds in alcohol research,” C. R. Olson [pictured below, near a glass presumably containing a beverage], A. E. Ryabinin, C. V. Mello, poster, Neuroscience 2012 meeting, October 2012. The authors, at Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, explain:

“Here we introduce the zebra finch as a model organism to study the effects of ethanol consumption on bird song: an example of a complex learned behavior. To evaluate the rate at which finches metabolize ethanol we administered a fixed dose of EtOH by IP injection and measured blood EtOH content (BEC) at regular intervals…. [Certain] traits (low metabolism, EtOH consumption and sustained BEC) make finches viable subjects in alcohol studies. We also recorded their songs during periods of elevated BEC and analyzed motif duration and spectral features with Sound Analysis Pro. Importantly, finches remain motivated to sing during intoxification, and EtOH effects on song output are marked by lengthened motif durations and altered spectral features of their songs.”

(Thanks to investigator Pat Shalit for bringing this to our attention.)

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