Rapidly alternating their singing back and forth, female and male wrens cooperate to sing a duet that sounds as if a single bird sang it. The researchers assumed that the brain of each bird would have a memory of its own part of the duet, and also have a memory of the cues from its partner. They were surprised to find that both brains had a record of the complete duet--a performance that neither bird can do by itself.
As with humans dancing a tango, one could assume that both people know their own parts of the dance and the cues from their partner, but this research suggests that both partners' brains have a powerful representation of the complete tango performance.
This simple insight from these dueting wrens is a new way to looking at cooperation. Perhaps in human endeavors it is more important to have an image of what a group wants to achieve than each participant's own tasks.
More information on this research is available in this news release from Johns Hopkins University.