The pathway needed for learning song in songbirds involves the basal ganglia, a set of brain regions known in mammals to be important for motor control, motor learning and a variety of cognitive functions. Because of the relatively simple circuitry for song learning, understanding vocal learning in songbirds may provide general insights into learning mechanisms in mammals, including humans. Specifically, this project will explore cellular mechanisms underlying information transfer and processing through the learning circuit. The experiments will use electrophysiological and neuroanatomical approaches to understand the structural, functional and molecular components of the wiring of this pathway. The results will increase knowledge of the role of the basal ganglia in cognitive processes such as learning and ultimately may shed light on disorders in which the basal ganglia are implicated, such as autism and schizophrenia.