Music in the Brain: How Neural Circuits in the Songbird Learn to Sing

November 15, 2018
Michale Fee, Professor, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Michale Fee is the Glen V. and Phyllis F. Dorflinger Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his PhD in Applied Physics from Stanford University in 1992. Before moving to MIT, he was a principal investigator in the Biological Computation Research Department at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. Dr. Fee joined the McGovern Institute in 2003. His research studies how the brain learns and generates complex sequential behaviors, with a focus on the songbird as a model system. Birdsong is a complex behavior that young birds learn from their fathers and it provides an ideal system to study the neural basis of learned behavior. Because the parts of the bird's brain that control song learning are closely related to human circuits that are disrupted in brain disorders such as Parkinson's and Huntington's disease, Dr. Fee hopes the lessons learned from birdsong will provide new clues to the causes and possible treatment of these conditions. He was awarded the 2012 Lawrence C. Katz Prize for Innovative Research in Neuroscience and was a Dart Scholar. He is co-director of the Methods in Computational Neuroscience at Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He is supported by grants from the NIH, NIMH, NSF, the Mathers Foundation, CHDI and the Simons Center for the Social Brain.