Before becoming a science writer, I studied how the brain learns vocalizations using songbirds (zebra finches in particular) as a model system. As a graduate student with Allison Doupe at the University of California-San Francisco, I showed that some songbird neurons are shaped during learning by a bird’s own voice and by their tutor’s song. As a post-doc with David Perkel at the University of Washington, I switched my focus from auditory to motor questions, and studied how a part of the songbird brain generates patterned activity that could drive singing.
Solis MM, Perkel, DJ (2006) Noradrenergic modulation of activity in a vocal control nucleus in vitro. J Neurophys 95: 2265-2276
Solis MM, Perkel, DJ (2005) Rhythmic activity in a forebrain vocal control nucleus in vitro. J Neurosci 25(11): 2811-2822.
Solis MM, Doupe AJ (2000) Compromised neural selectivity for song in birds with impaired sensorimotor learning. Neuron 25(1):109-121.
Solis MM, Doupe AJ (1999) Contributions of tutor and bird’s own song experience to neural selectivity in the songbird anterior forebrain. J Neurosci 19(11): 4559-4584.
Solis MM, Doupe AJ (1997) Anterior forebrain neurons develop selectivity by an intermediate stage of song learning. J Neurosci 17(16): 6447-6462.
Whaling CS, Solis MM, Doupe AJ, Soha JA, Marler P (1997) Acoustic and neural bases for innate recognition of song. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 94(23):12694-12698.
Invited review articles
Solis MM, Perkel DJ (January 2006) Neuroethology. In: ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LIFE SCIENCES. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester http://www.els.net/ [doi:10.1038/npg.els.0003380].
Doupe AJ, Solis MM, Kimpo R, Boettiger CA (2004) Cellular, circuit, and synaptic mechanisms in song learning. Ann NY Acad Sci 1016:495-523.
Doupe AJ, Solis MM, Boettiger CA, Hessler NA (2004) Birdsong: Hearing in the service of vocal learning. In: The Cognitive Neurosciences III (Gazzaniga M, Ed.) pp 245-258.
Solis MM, Brainard MS, Hessler NA, Doupe AJ (2000) Song selectivity and sensorimotor signals in vocal learning and production. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97(22): 11836-42.
Solis MM (2000) Adult neurogenesis in songbirds: a tale of two neurons. Neuron 25(2): 256-7.
Doupe AJ, Solis MM (1999) Song- and order-selective auditory responses emerge in neurons of the songbird anterior forebrain during vocal learning. In: The Design of Animal Communication (Hauser M and Konishi M, Eds.), pp. Boston: MIT Press.
Doupe AJ, Solis MM (1997) Song- and order-selective neurons develop in the songbird anterior forebrain during vocal learning. J Neurobiol 33(5): 694-709.
Prizes of note
A complete CV can be downloaded here