Birds ‘dream sing’ by moving their vocal muscles in their sleep

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Zebra finches sing during the day, and at night while they sleep their vocal organs act out the motions of singing, a bit like a sleepwalking person

Practice, they say, makes perfect. Zebra finches are such dedicated musicians that they appear to rehearse their songs during sleep.

It has been known for some time that, while zebra finches sleep, their brains spontaneously reproduce the activation patterns they make when they sing during the day. Now it seems the birds’ vocal muscles actually move in response to these neural signals.

Gabriel Mindlin of the University of Buenos Aires and his colleagues surgically attached electrodes to the vocal muscles of ten …