Decoded genome of the zebra finch will will help scientists understand how humans learn language and may someday provide insights into diseases like autism that can inhibit speech, team members say.

“Now we can look deep into the genome, not just at the genes involved in vocal learning, but at the complex ways in which they are regulated,” said Richard K. Wilson, the research’s senior author and director of Washington University’s Genome Center. “This information provides clues to how vocal learning occurs at the most basic molecular level in birds and people.”

Past research has shown that hundreds of genes light up in the finch’s brain as the bird learns a new song.

The new research show that significantly more genes about 800 total are activated by the act of singing….