How the human capacity for language evolved is puzzling given that precursor 'Homo' groups speaking precursors to language no longer exist. We hypothesize that human and songbird brains possess analogous biological 'solutions' to the puzzle that enabled speech and songs. We focus on a molecule known as FoxP2 that, when disrupted, disrupts learned vocalizations. FoxP2 is part of a neuromolecular network that enables this rare form of communication
The Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology (formerly the Department of Physiological Science) is dedicated to explaining the function of complex biological systems, in cells, organs, and individuals. The recent rapid advances in molecular and cell biology and genetics, including the sequencing of numerous genomes, has provided an unprecedented opportunity to use this new information to understand how the genes interact to produce emergent phenotypes in complex systems. The research of our faculty spans many levels. We use approaches that range from RNA interference to ion channel electrophysiology to genetic intervention in behavior to mathematical modeling to robotics, all to make sense of sensory, motor, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems.
At the undergraduate level, the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology offers the B.S. degree in Physiological Science, and contributes strongly to the
Interdepartmental Undergraduate Program in
Neuroscience. The Department also offers a 2-year research-oriented M.S. program in Physiological Science. Ph.D. students in the Department come from a variety of interdepartmental programs, including, the Ph.D. Program in Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology, and the Interdepartment Ph.D. Program in Neuroscience.