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Revealing the biological bases of speech and language by studying bat vocal learning

Description du projet

Les chauves-souris ont quelque chose à dire sur les fondements biologiques du langage

Les origines biologiques du discours et du langage ne sont pas entièrement comprises. Les scientifiques sont intrigués par la manière dont la capacité de langage a évolué chez les humains. Les chauves-souris, qui disposent de vocalisations complexes pour la navigation, peuvent nous aider à mieux comprendre les mécanismes moléculaires et le circuit neuronal qui soutiennent l’apprentissage vocal. C’est l’objectif du projet BATSPEAK, financé par le CER. Il identifiera les marqueurs génétiques de l’apprentissage vocal afin d’examiner les mécanismes moléculaires qui sous-tendent l’apprentissage vocal des mammifères. BATSPEAK caractérisera également les mécanismes neuronaux sous-jacents à l’apprentissage vocal des mammifères et utilisera ces informations pour comprendre les contributions causales et directes des mécanismes neuronaux et moléculaires. Les conclusions serviront au diagnostic et au traitement des troubles liés au langage.

Objectif

The overarching goal of BATSPEAK is to shed light on the biological origins of speech and language by analysing the molecular mechanisms and neural circuitry that support vocal learning in the bat, using tools that I have pioneered in this species.

Vocal learning is a fundamental building block of human spoken language and is a trait we share with few other animals. It has only been identified in 4 non-human mammal groups, of which bats are the only tractable model system in which the molecular and neural mechanisms can be addressed, thus providing a unique window onto the biological foundations from which human speech and language evolved.

BATSPEAK has 3 aims:

1. To identify the genomic markers of vocal learning allowing us to probe the molecular mechanisms that underlie mammalian vocal learning
2. To characterise neural mechanisms underlying mammalian vocal learning
3. To determine direct, causative contributions of molecular and neural mechanisms to mammalian vocal learning behaviour

This project will use bats as an exemplar species in which the molecular and neural mechanisms underlying mammalian vocal learning can be understood, and will contain 3 work packages:

WP1. Comparative evolutionary genomics, coupled with gene function and gene expression analyses, to identify the molecular mechanisms underlying vocal learning
WP2. Comparative neuroanatomy, electrophysiology, and transcriptomics to characterise a key neural circuit underlying vocal learning
WP3. Generation of transient transgenic bats to test hypotheses of the role of molecular and neural mechanisms in vocal learning behaviour

Understanding the bases of vocal learning in mammals will shed light on the biology underlying speech and language and provide a new mammalian model for the study of language related disorders.

Régime de financement

ERC-COG - Consolidator Grant

Institution d’accueil

THE UNIVERSITY COURT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ST ANDREWS
Contribution nette de l'UE
€ 1 935 402,99
Adresse
NORTH STREET 66 COLLEGE GATE
KY16 9AJ St Andrews
Royaume-Uni

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Région
Scotland Eastern Scotland Clackmannanshire and Fife
Type d’activité
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Liens
Coût total
€ 1 935 402,99

Bénéficiaires (1)