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Michael Brainard is interested in how experience acts on the nervous system to shape behavior. Brainard and his team want to understand how the nervous system changes over the course of development to give rise to critical periods for learning, and how individuals’ innate variations interact with experience to give rise to differences in learned behaviors. The team focuses on vocal learning in songbirds as a model system to investigate these questions, employing a variety of behavioral, neurophysiological, and genetic approaches.