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ERIC Number: EJ902393
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Nov
Pages: 20
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0023-9690
Distributed Recognition of Natural Songs by European Starlings
Knudsen, Daniel; Thompson, Jason V.; Gentner, Timothy Q.
Learning and Motivation, v41 n4 p287-306 Nov 2010
Individual vocal recognition behaviors in songbirds provide an excellent framework for the investigation of comparative psychological and neurobiological mechanisms that support the perception and cognition of complex acoustic communication signals. To this end, the complex songs of European starlings have been studied extensively. Yet, several basic parameters of starling individual vocal recognition have not been assessed. Here we investigate the temporal extent of song information acquired by starlings during vocal recognition learning. We trained two groups of starlings using standard operant conditioning techniques to recognize several songs from two conspecific male singers. In the first experiment we tested their ability to maintain accurate recognition when presented with (1) random sequences of 1-12 motifs (stereotyped song components) drawn from the training songs, and (2) 0.1-12-s excerpts of continuous song drawn from the training songs. We found that song recognition improved monotonically as more vocal material is provided. In the second experiment, we systematically substituted continuous, varying length regions of white noise for portions of the training songs and again examined recognition accuracy. Recognition remained above chance levels for all noise substitutions tested (up to 91% of the training stimulus) although all but the smallest substitutions led to some decrement in song recognition. Overall, above chance recognition could be obtained with surprisingly few motifs, short excerpts of song, and in the absence of large portions of the training songs. These results suggest that starlings acquire a representation of song during individual vocal recognition learning that is robust to perturbations and distributed broadly over large portions of these complex acoustic sequences. (Contains 10 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A