Study of Drunk Birds Shows Alcohol Slurs Their Songs
Scientists studying finches to learn about human speech have discovered that, like humans, the birds will sing with a slur while intoxicated.
The mechanisms in bids' brains that control their singing are similar to those in the human brain which control speech, so researchers have been able to learn a lot about human auditory patterns by studying them.
Scientists at the Oregon Health and Science University decided to see what happened when they spiked juice with liquor and gave zebra finches a blood alcohol level of 0.08%, the legal intoxication limit in the US.
The results were fairly predictable: the normally harmonious crooners began singing in a decidedly "slurred" fashion. Their songs became considerably less crisp and organized than they would otherwise be.
But unlike humans -- who tend to make a bigger racket with each drink on karaoke night -- the finches' songs became quieter after imbibing.
Next up is discovering whether or not drunkenness prevents birds from learning new songs.
The moral of the story: we're all a little more bird-brained than we thought -- especially while tipsy.