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Song imitation in birds provides good material for studying the basic biology of vocal learning. Techniques were developed for inducing the rapid onset of song imitation in young zebra finches and for tracking trajectories of vocal change over a 7-week period until a match to a model song was achieved. Exposure to a model song induced the prompt generation(More)
Current technology makes it possible to measure song development continuously throughout a vocal ontogeny. Here we briefly review some of the problems involved and describe experimental and analytic methods for automatic tracing of vocal changes. These techniques make it possible to characterize the specific methods the bird uses to imitate sounds: an(More)
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)
Rat exploratory behavior consists of regular excursions into the environment from a preferred place termed a home base. A phase plane representation of excursions reveals a geometrical pattern that changes during exploration in both shape and size. We first show that with time and repeated exposures to the same large environment there is a gradual increase(More)
A male zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata, kept with its father until adulthood develops an imitation of its father's song motif. We report here that the completeness of this imitation was sensitive to the social or auditory context in which the bird grew up: the greater the number of male siblings in a clutch, the shorter the mean duration of the song motif(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)
Assessment of vocal imitation requires a widely accepted way of describing and measuring any similarities between the song of a tutor and that of its pupil. Quantifying the similarity between two songs, however, can be difficult and fraught with subjective bias. We present a fully automated procedure that measures parametrically the similarity between(More)
Humans and oscine songbirds share the rare capacity for vocal learning. Songbirds have the ability to acquire songs and calls of various rhythms through imitation. In several species, birds can even coordinate the timing of their vocalizations with other individuals in duets that are synchronized with millisecond-accuracy. It is not known, however, if(More)