David J. Perkel, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology and Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery
Research Affiliate, Center on Human Development and Disability
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-6515
Dr. Perkel studies vocal learning in birds as a model for understanding speech learning in humans. Vocal learning involves learning new communication sounds, such as new words, by listening to others. Perkel and his team study neural circuits, including a major pathway involving the basal ganglia, which allow some songbirds to learn new songs. Since these circuits are similar to those in mammals, songbirds can serve as models of vocal learning in humans. A better understanding of vocal learning could contribute to therapies for persons with developmental disabilities that affect their ability to speak and learn language as well as to a broader understanding of developmental disorders that affect complex social behaviors.
Dr. Perkel also studies dopamine modulation of auditory responses in the inferior colliculus, a region of the auditory system that has specializations for processing complex sounds such as speech vocalizations.
David Perkel's Lab webpage
University of Washington • Center on Human Development
and Disability • Box 357920 • Seattle WA 98195-7920 USA • 206-543-7701
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August 27, 2014