Gregory Ball

Seasonal neuroplasticity: a bird’s eye view

Is your brain the same in the spring as it is in the fall?  If you’re a songbird at least, the answer is no. Birdsong is a learned vocalization that functions to attract a mate or repel competitors and parallels human language in the way it is learned. Songbird species often breed in a highly seasonal manner that results in dramatic changes in brain and behavior. Many of these changes are regulated by seasonal changes in steroid hormone action. This talk will provide insight into how this seasonal remodeling of the brain operates and how these changes lead to seasonal changes in birdsong.

About the Speaker
Gregory F. Ball became dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Maryland in fall 2014. Prior to joining UMD, Ball was vice dean for science and research infrastructure in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. A highly accomplished scientist, Ball has amassed more than 225 research publications. He maintains a research lab funded by the National Institutes of Health in the Department of Psychology at UMD. Ball's lab is interested in the interrelation of hormones, brain and behavior. He studies a variety of avian species that exhibit high degrees of neuroplasticity in response to hormone treatment. His work concerns hormone effects on both affective and cognitive aspects of vocal communication and related social behaviors. Ball earned a B.A. in psychology from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in psychobiology from the Institute of Animal Behavior at Rutgers University. He conducted his postdoctoral work at Rockefeller University and held faculty appointments there, at Boston College and at Johns Hopkins University.