Ofer Tchernichovski

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Sleep affects learning and development in humans and other animals, but the role of sleep in developmental learning has never been examined. Here we show the effects of night-sleep on song development in the zebra finch by recording and analysing the entire song ontogeny. During periods of rapid learning we observed a pronounced deterioration in song(More)
Culture is typically viewed as consisting of traits inherited epigenetically, through social learning. However, cultural diversity has species-typical constraints, presumably of genetic origin. A celebrated, if contentious, example is whether a universal grammar constrains syntactic diversity in human languages. Oscine songbirds exhibit song learning and(More)
Electrophysiological and activity-dependent gene expression studies of birdsong have contributed to the understanding of the neural representation of natural sounds. However, we have limited knowledge about the overall spatial topography of song representation in the avian brain. Here, we adapt the noninvasive functional MRI method in mildly sedated zebra(More)
Human language, as well as birdsong, relies on the ability to arrange vocal elements in new sequences. However, little is known about the ontogenetic origin of this capacity. Here we track the development of vocal combinatorial capacity in three species of vocal learners, combining an experimental approach in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) with an(More)
Exploratory variability is essential for sensorimotor learning, but it is not known how and at what timescales it is regulated. We manipulated song learning in zebra finches to experimentally control the requirements for vocal exploration in different parts of their song. We first trained birds to perform a one-syllable song, and once they mastered it, we(More)
While there have been great advances in quantification of the genotype of organisms, including full genomes for many species, the quantification of phenotype is at a comparatively primitive stage. Part of the reason is technical difficulty: the phenotype covers a wide range of characteristics, ranging from static morphological features, to dynamic behavior.(More)
Quantitative analysis of behavior plays an important role in birdsong neuroethology, serving as a common denominator in studies spanning molecular to system-level investigation of sensory-motor conversion, developmental learning, and pattern generation in the brain. In this review, we describe the role of behavioral analysis in facilitating cross-level(More)
We consider quantitative measures of behavioral and neuronal dynamics as a means of characterizing phenotypes. Such measures are important from a scientific perspective; because understanding brain function is contingent on understanding the link between the dynamics of the nervous system and behavioral dynamics. They are also important from a biomedical(More)
Songbirds spend much of their time learning, producing, and listening to complex vocal sequences we call songs. Songs are learned via cultural transmission, and singing, usually by males, has a strong impact on the behavioral state of the listeners, often promoting affiliation, pair bonding, or aggression. What is it in the acoustic structure of birdsong(More)