Cooperation, neurotransmitters & the Ecuadorian wren

Are we stronger and more effective when we cooperate or do we perform better when we work towards our own interests? It’s a question that you’ll probably find elicits an illuminating response one way or another.

Research in this months Science Journal produces evidence for cooperation from an unlikely source, the Plain Tailed Ecuadorian Wren, or to afford him his proper title, Pheugopedius Euophrys to his friends. This particular little wren has the entertaining karaoke style party trick of performing a duet whenever it gets the opportunity. Male and female wrens cooperate during the duet by singing alternate syllables whilst rocking out. Researchers measured the wren’s neural mechanisms throughout the performance and found that neurons within the brain reacted more strongly to the duet than to the wrens own individual sections of the song. The sensory information from each wren was used to coordinate singing between individuals producing cooperative behaviour and a virtuoso performance by the wrens.

The conclusion by Fortune et al the papers authors? As the wrens possess similar neurotransmitter systems to other vertabrate animals, our brains are organised in a similar way, potentially yielding similar results when cooperating. So whether its karaoke your trying out or you’re wondering how to improve performance, it could well be worth considering how cooperation could help you.


About koru development

At Koru we'd like to be part of your journey towards whatever it is that you want to achieve in your life, by bringing you tools, news & strategies to help you get there. Gill Thackray, Koru Development Director, is a Psychology Lecturer, British Psychological Society Psychometric Assessor, MBTI Practioner, author of a number of articles on the practical applications of psychology in everyday life, regular blogger, speaker, contributor and founding member of the Koru Trust, a charity working with Karen Hilltribe refugees in Mae La UN Refugee Camp Thailand. She has lived and worked in Tibet, China, Poland and Thailand. For more information, useful bits and pieces or just to find out what we're up to visit us at or follow us on Twitter and Linkdin.
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