Sparrow brain cell death can offer clues in human age-related diseasesResearchers are expecting to develop treatments for treating age-related degenerative diseases of the brain such as Parkinson’s and dementia by working on the concept of remarkable changes in the brains of tiny songbirds every year.

Researchers from the University of Washington and the University of California, Berkeley reported a striking shrinkage in size of the brain regions controlling singing behavior of Gambel’s white-crowned sparrows.

Christopher Thompson, lead author of the study and a UW doctoral student in neurobiology and behavior termed the changes are substantial. The co-authors of this study were Eliot Brenowitz, a UW professor of psychology and biology, and George Bentley, a former UW postdoctoral researcher who is now a UC Berkeley assistant professor of integrative biology.