We May Like Doing Things Together More Than Doing Things Alone, Says Scienceby Scott Alden on November 04, 2011
Are you looking for someone to share your life with? The unique singing style of the plain-tailed wren of Ecuador may be able to tell you why it’s so important to you.
Neuroscientist Eric Fortune traveled to the wren’s natural habitat to study the birds’ famous duets. The male and female wrens sing their individual parts in such quick succession, that it is almost indistinguishable from a solo song.
What makes these birds so good at making music together? They just really like it.
“In both males and females, we found that neurons reacted more strongly to the duet song — with both the male and female birds singing — over singing their own parts alone. In fact, the brain’s responses to duet songs were stronger than were responses to any other sound,” explained Fortune.
Beyond being the most adorable thing you’ll hear all day, Fortune says that the wrens’ reaction to singing together may be able to shed some light on our own desire for togetherness:
“The neurotransmitter systems that control brain activity at the molecular level are nearly identical among all vertebrates and the layout of the brain structures is the same. Thus, the kinds of phenomena that we have described in these wrens is very relevant to the brains of most, if not all, vertebrate species, including us humans.”
Of course, this doesn’t imply that our brains are more active when we’re in a relationship than when we’re single — but it may imply that we prefer partner activities to solo ones. Swing dancing, doubles ping-pong, taking a trapeze class, having sex, or knocking “Islands in the Stream” out of the park at the karaoke bar — if we’re anything like the plain-tailed wren, these things will make our brains buzz more than a night alone.