Finches Offer New Tool for Studying Huntington's Disease
By analyzing the neurology of song formation among finches, researchers may have found new ways to study the loss of vocal communication among conditions afflicting the brain. A new study conducted by the Rockefeller University, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, details how researchers studied common finches from commercial pet stores in order to study speech, which is not applicable in traditional mouse studies. By breeding finches shown to have a singular genetic mutation mirroring Huntington’s disease, the similar effect on avian brains could be studied. The lead author of the study explained, “If we develop a drug, we can inject into a specific brain area and then trace moment by moment, how it impacts the degradation of vocal ability in songbirds. Our work has relevance beyond Huntington’s. By creating the first song bird models for vocal degeneration, we have achieved what I believe is a turning point for all kinds of diseases that affect speech, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and autism.” To learn more about this study, click here.
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