Comparative Studies of Functional Brain Neuroanatomy

Dr. Steven E. Brauth, University of Maryland, College Park, MD

Colleagues in Other Institutions:

Professor Ye-Zhong Tang, Chengdu Institute of Biology, PR China

Dr. Sarah E. Durand, Queens College and Dr. James Heaton, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary


Budgerigars (M. undulatus) provide valuable animal models for the study of auditory-vocal learning because these individuals use learned communication sounds to coordinate social behaviors..

The Emei music frog (B. daunchina) uses communication sounds to coordinate reproductive behaviors.


Dr. Steven E. Brauth is a comparative neuroanatomist interested in the evolution and neurobiology of audition and vocal control in land vertebrates. His current interests are focused on the organization and functions of the auditory and vocal control systems in psittacine birds and anuran species. Songbirds and parrots are among the very few species capable of auditory-vocal learning in which individuals learn to modify communication sounds. Anuran species use complex communication sounds to coordinate social and reproductive behaviors.

Collaborators in Other Labs

Dr. Ye-Zhong Tang received his Ph.D. from Beijing University and was a postdoctoral associated in the laboratory of Professor Catherine Carr in the Biology department at the University of Maryland. Dr. Tang is now a Professor and laboratory Director at the Chengdu Institute of Biology in China, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Todd F. Roberts is a postdoctoral associate working with Professor Mooney in the Neurobiology program at Duke University. Dr. Roberts worked as a graduate student in the laboratory and received his degree under the mentorship of Drs. Brauth and Hall. His interests lie in the nature of molecular mechanisms underlying vocal learning and the organization of auditory-vocal interfaces.

Dr. Sarah Durand is a neuroethologist and former postdoctoral fellow of Dr. Brauth's lab. Dr. Durand has collaborated with us on studies of neurotransmitter systems in the budgerigar. Her interests include the organization of ascending auditory thalamo- telencephalic pathways in birds as well as role of the enkephalins and other neuropeptides in these pathways.

Dr. James T. Heaton is a neuroscientist and former graduate student now working in the Harvard Medical School Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. His interests include mechanisms of vocal production, development of prosthetic devices for patients suffering laryngeal damage and comparative work on vocal learning.

Former Undergraduate Advisees

Departmental Honors Students:

  • David Airey, B.S. 5/92, Currently, Post-Doctoral Fellow, College of Medicine, University of Tenness ee.
  • Paul L. Cohen, B.S. 5/90, M.D., The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Currently, Resident, Neurosurgery, University of Cincinatti School of Medicine.
  • Mark Flasar, B. S. 5/96, M.D., University of Maryland School of Medicine
  • Micah Sickel, B. S. 5/94, M.D.-Ph.D, Candidate in Neuroscience, University of Maryland School of Medicine.
  • Stuart Amateau, B. S. 12/95, M.D-Ph.D., Candidate in Neuroscience, University of Maryland School of Med icine
  • Seth Tuwiner, B. S. 5/96, M.D., The Technion, Israel, Currently a Resident in Neurology, University of southern California School of Medicine
  • Steven Shea, B. S. 5/95, Ph.D. in Neurobiology, The University of Chicago, currently Assistant Professor at Woods Hole, Mass.
  • Hillary Bierman, B. S. 5/01, Ph.D. in Neurobiology, The Unversity of Chicago.
  • Tova Benaderet, B. S. 5/00, M.D., University of Maryland School of Medicine.
  • Steve Cayelli, B. S. 5/91, M.D., Eastern Virginia College of Medicine.

ETEP (Enhanced Training Opportunities for Ethnic Minorities in Psychology) Students:

  • Colleen Fraser, B. S. 2004
  • Senovia Smith, B. S. 2003
  • Serena McCann, B. S. 2000 (also Ronald E. McNair Fellow)