Richard Mooney, Ph.D.

Photo of Richard Mooney

Phone: 919-684-5025

Box 3209 DUMC
Durham, NC 27710

Email: mooney AT neuro DOT duke DOT edu

George Barth Geller Professor

Neurobiology, School of Medicine

DIBS Faculty, Member, DIBS Executive Board

Research Description

Our group is broadly interested in the cultural transmission of behavior. Our specific research interest is understanding the neural mechanisms that underlie imitative vocal learning in songbirds. Aspects of this research include (but are not limited to): identifying the neural circuitry that enables the ear to instruct the voice; the neurobiology of vocal communication; the effects of auditory experience and motor performance on brain structure and function. We employ a wide variety of methods, ranging from chronic recording of neural activity in freely behaving songbirds to in vivo multi-photon imaging of neurons in young birds as they learn to sing.


Ph.D., California Institute of Technology

B.S., Yale University

Recent Publications

Roberts TF, Tschida KA, Klein ME, Mooney R. (2010) Rapid spine stabilization and synaptic enhancement at the onset of behavioural learning. Nature 463(7283):948-952.

Lei H, Mooney R. (2010) Manipulation of a central auditory representation shapes learned vocal output. Neuron 65(1):122-134.

Prather J, Peters S, Nowicki S, Mooney R. (2008) Precise auditory-vocal mirroring in neurons for learned vocal communication. Nature 451:305-310.

Research Areas

Research Topics

  • Sensorimotor integration and imitative learning
  • Audition
  • Music and speech