About this Research Topic
More recently it has been reported that songbirds are also able to distinguish between sound sequences reflecting complex grammar. Interestingly, songbirds learn to sing by imitating adult song in a process not unlike language development in children. Moreover, the neural circuits supporting this behavior in songbirds bear anatomical and functional similarities to those in humans. In adult humans the fiber tract connecting the auditory cortex and motor cortex dorsally is known to be involved in the repetition of spoken language. This pathway is present already at birth and is taken to play a major role during language acquisition. In songbirds, detailed information exist concerning the interaction of auditory, motor and cortical-basal ganglia processing during song learning, and present a rich substrate for comparative studies.
The scope of the Research Topic is to bring together contributions of researchers from different fields, who investigate grammar processing in humans, non-human primates and songbirds with the aim to find answers to the question of what constitutes the neurobiological basis of grammar learning. Open questions are: Which brain networks are relevant for grammar learning? Is there more than one dorsal pathway (one from temporal cortex to motor cortex and one to Broca’s area) and if so what are their functions? Has the ability to process sequences of a given hierarchical complexity evolved in different phylogenetic lines (birds, primates, other vocal production learners such as bats)? Is the presence of a sensory-to-motor circuit in humans a precondition for development of a dorsal pathway between the temporal cortex and Broca’s area? What role do subcortical structures (Basal Ganglia) play in vocal and grammar learning?
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