Christopher R. Olson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

College of Graduate Studies
Department of Physiology
Midwestern University
Agave Rm 217C
19555 N 59th Ave.
Glendale, AZ 85308

Office: 623-572-3731
Fax: 623-572-3673


B.A.   Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon
Ph.D.   Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
Post-doctoral Fellow at Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon


Our ability to learn and produce vocalizations underlies spoken language, our primary mode of communication, and is one of the traits that make us uniquely human. Indeed, vocal learning is rare among animals and is a trait that we share with a select few species, including whales, bats, songbirds and hummingbirds. Interestingly, vocal control in humans and birds is very similar - not just with regard to structural and behavioral qualities, but also among the genes that are expressed in the vocal control areas of the brains of both birds and humans.

By studying the zebra finch, an exemplary model for the study of physiology and neurobiology of vocal learning, I hope to find better ways to treat and diagnose an array of speech-related disorders such as autism, stuttering and Huntington's disease. To achieve these goals I have pioneered the use of the finch to understand how factors like alcohol and micronutrients (vitamin A deficiency) affect vocal learning and vocal production through the acoustic analysis of their song. In addition, I utilize several molecular approaches to measure gene expression and gene products in the vocal centers of the finch brain to better understand the molecular prerequisites to vocal learning and speech production.


A complete list of my published work can be found in MyBibliography (click the link)


I participate in the following team-taught physiology courses:

PHYSG 1501 Summer, Neuroscience for CPG
PHYSG 1521/1523 Winter, Physiology Workshops for AZCOM/Podiatric Medicine
PHYSG 1532/1534 Spring, Thermoregulation, Physiology Workshops for AZCOM/Podiatric Medicine
PHYSG 1533 Spring, Visual and Auditory Physiology for CVM
PHYSG 1582-86 Winter, Endocrinology, Thermoregulation for CHS
BASIG 1707/1516 and 1508/1517 Spring, Endocrinology, Reproductive Physiology 
BMMSG 504/604 (Research Seminar) Fall, Faculty Facilitator