Rationale and methodology for testing auditory cognition in songbirds

  • Sturdy C
  • Weisman R
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Songbirds, and in particular zebra finches, present a wonderful opportunity to study cognition in species that have evolved specialized abilities and brain structures for auditory cognition. The authors describe the rationale, methods, and apparatus used to test the auditory perceptual and cognitive abilities of songbirds. They have developed an operant conditioning system for conducting discrimination experiments simultaneously with several songbirds. The system uses specialized single-board computers, standard personal computers, CD-ROMs, and custom-written software to present stimuli, control training, and record responses. Also, the authors describe software to produce high-quality synthesized and naturally occurring acoustic stimuli for use in studies of auditory cognition. Typical results from a challenging frequency-range discrimination are included. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Auditory cognition
  • Operant discrimination
  • Songbirds
  • Zebra finches

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