The basic advantage of learning is that it permits an individual to behave adaptively even in the face of environmental change. The environment must be unpredictable for learning to be of benefit, but not too unpredictable; what happens in the present must relate in some way to what happens in the future for learning to be useful. Straightforward though this benefit of learning is, the benefit of learning in particular contexts may not be so apparent. For instance, despite decades of study of the ontogeny and neuroethology of song learning in birds, the issue ofwhy birds learn song (and the related issue ofwhy animals such as insects and frogs do not) is still not settled.
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