Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Songbirds' Learning Hub in Brain Offers Insight Into Motor Control and Vocal Behavior

To learn its signature melody, the male songbird uses a trial-and-error process to mimic the song of its father, singing the tune over and over again, hundreds of times a day, making subtle changes in the pitch of the notes...For previous experiments, Brainard and his colleagues developed a training process that induced adult finches to calibrate their song. They created a computer program that could recognize the pitch of every syllable the bird sang. The computer also delivered a sound the birds didn't like -- a kind of white noise -- at the very moment they uttered a specific note. Within a few hours, the finches learned to alter the pitch of that syllable to avoid hearing the unpleasant sound. more

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