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Curriculum Vitae

Below is an overview of some of my research. My dissertation was on how birds perceive various acoustic features in their songs. However, I have also done anatomical work on how the avian forebrain is involved in song learning.

Brain Circuitry of Songbird Learning

The songbird brain has a specialized pathway used for song learning, that is separate from the motor pathway used for vocal production. This song learning circuit is termed the Anterior Forebrain Pathway (schematized below). I studied the specific song nucleus LMAN, and how it affects the sequencing of song syllables during early song development.

Anterior Forebrain Pathway

Below is a link to the poster that I presented at the Society for Neuroscience 2005 in Washington D.C.


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Perception of acoustic cues in zebra finch song

Songs consist of brief bursts of sound (syllables) separated by silence (intervals). Each syllable is unique in its acoustic properties. Each syllable and interval in a song has a specific duration that is consistent from song to song. In my experiments, I am testing whether zebra finches can detect changes made to their song motifs, and what types of changes are most easily detected. I am specifically interested in two levels of timing in zebra finch song: overall rhythm (temporal envelope cues) and changes that occur over much smaller timescales within individual syllables (fine structure cues). While both are important in the production of song, are both equally salient to the birds when they listen to song? In addition, I examined the relative salience of three fine structure cues in song syllables: amplitude envelope (loudness), spectral structure (pitch),and temporal fie structure (timbre).

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