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Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences

Sackler Faculty Member Mimi Kao Explores How We Learn

Wednesday, September 19, 2018
The way zebra finches learn their song may help us understand human learning and some neurological diseases.
mimi kao
Photo: Alonso Nichols

Mimi Kao, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology and a member of the Sackler graduate program in Neuroscience, uses zebra finch as an experimental model to probe learning and the function of the cortical-basal ganglia (CBG) within the brain. Birds learn their songs by developing the motor pathway needed to "sing" the song, which involves circuits that control the organ used to produce the sounds.  They also develop the ability to learn and modify the song, a second key part of the process.

The zebra finch and its song provide a good model for work addressing how memories form because despite it's complexity, it is simpler than related processes occurring in the human brain. Some of the work is likely to also inform mechanisms important in human neurological disorders.

Learn more about Dr. Kao's research and read the full story, written by David Levin. His story originally appeared in Tufts Now.