Birdsong provides a unique model for understanding the behavioral and neural bases underlying complex sequential behaviors. However, birdsong analyses require laborious effort to make the data quantitatively analyzable. The previous attempts had succeeded to provide some reduction of human efforts involved in birdsong segment classification. The present study was aimed to further reduce human efforts while increasing classification performance. In the current proposal, a linear-kernel support vector machine was employed to minimize the amount of human-generated label samples for reliable element classification in birdsong, and to enable the classifier to handle highly-dimensional acoustic features while avoiding the over-fitting problem. Bengalese finch's songs in which distinct elements (i.e., syllables) were aligned in a complex sequential pattern were used as a representative test case in the neuroscientific research field. Three evaluations were performed to test (1) algorithm validity and accuracy with exploring appropriate classifier settings, (2) capability to provide accuracy with reducing amount of instruction dataset, and (3) capability in classifying large dataset with minimized manual labeling. The results from the evaluation (1) showed that the algorithm is 99.5% reliable in song syllables classification. This accuracy was indeed maintained in evaluation (2), even when the instruction data classified by human were reduced to one-minute excerpt (corresponding to 300-400 syllables) for classifying two-minute excerpt. The reliability remained comparable, 98.7% accuracy, when a large target dataset of whole day recordings (∼30,000 syllables) was used. Use of a linear-kernel support vector machine showed sufficient accuracies with minimized manually generated instruction data in bird song element classification. The methodology proposed would help reducing laborious processes in birdsong analysis without sacrificing reliability, and therefore can help accelerating behavior and studies using songbirds. © 2014 Tachibana et al.
Tachibana, R. O., Oosugi, N., & Okanoya, K. (2014). Semi-automatic classification of birdsong elements using a linear support vector machine. PLoS ONE, 9(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0092584