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Bird Brains

I stumbled on an article on neurogenesis (growth of new brain cells) that provided a clear example as to how basic research in non-humans can have such a concrete impact on human health.  I think it's important to be reminded of such benefits in times of budget cuts and attacks on funding for basic science.

"About 20 years ago, research on the ability of adult songbirds to learn new songs showed that their brains created new cells and that these neurons helped them form memories of the new songs.  This opened up debate on whether the same process occurred in humans.

Subsequent research confirmed human neurogenesis, and now questions revolve around the  extent that neurogenesis occurs, where it occurs, and the function new neurons perform in the working brain."  From Brain Briefings, June 2007 published by the Society for Neuroscience.  The rest of the short article is about neurogenesis in adult humans, not birds.