Michael Long


Department: School of Medicine
Start Year: 2021
Starting Institution: New York University
Current Institution: New York University
Project Title: Vocal Communication

For us to interact with the outside world, the brain must plan and dictate our actions and behaviors. In many cases, we learn to reproducibly execute a well-defined series of muscle movements to perform impressive feats of motor skill, such as hitting a golf ball or playing the violin. In the case of speech and other communicative gestures, these movements are needed to interact with other individuals. Despite their centrality to everyday life, however, the neural underpinnings of these learned motor sequences are poorly understood. The Long Lab seeks to identify the relevant processing centers involved in producing specific motor sequences through careful circuit manipulation and to investigate their functional properties during natural behavior. To accomplish this, we focus on three distinct types of behaviors notable for their roles in enabling vocal communication: song production in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), countersinging in a neotropical rodent (Scotinomys teguina), and human speech.