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The flexible listener: exploring zebra finch sensitivity to spectral and temporal sound features

Human vocal communication and music perception represent advanced cognitive skills, seemingly innate and universal. These faculties encompass a range of perceptual and cognitive abilities. Cross-species research sheds light on the origins of musicality by investigating whether these traits are shared by nonhuman species.

Z. Ning
02 May 2024
Thesis in Leiden Repository

Songbirds, notably zebra finches, serve as valuable models due to their complex vocalizations and similarities to humans in auditory perception. My thesis explored zebra finches' sensitivity to spectral and temporal sound features. Chapter 2 examines the influence of song duration and spectral characteristics on song discrimination, while Chapter 3 tests song preferences. Chapter 4 investigates sequential and spectral feature recognition. Chapter 5 focuses on melody recognition. Zebra finches demonstrate perceptual flexibility, adapting focus based on stimulus characteristics. These findings underscore the importance of training conditions and stimulus nature in shaping auditory perception. Overall, my thesis enhances understanding of auditory cognition and cognitive flexibility among songbirds.

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