Financial Disclosure: Dr. Perkel has no financial relationships to disclose. 

Non-Financial Disclosure: Dr. Perkel has no non-financial relationships to disclose.

David J. Perkel, PhD

David J. Perkel, Ph.D. is a neuroscientist who has been studying neural mechanisms of learning since the 1980’s. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of California at San Franciso. He is a Professor in the Department of Biology and in the Department of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is also currently Chair of the Department of Biology.

​​Paper Presentation: How Birds Learn to Sing and What We Learn from Studying this Process

Songbirds, like humans, learn their their songs by copying the sounds of their parents (usually the father, in birds). This form of imitation is mediated by a dedicated set of brain regions connected into circuits that neuroscientists are beginning to understand. Some of these brain regions have direct links to human brain circuits that may be important for learning skilled movements, including vocalization. Moreover, some songbird species have the capacity to regrow portions of these circuits seasonally, raising the [admittedly distant] possibility of new therapeutic approaches to vocal rehabilitation after brain injury or stroke.