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LSLT: Adam Fishbein (NACS)

Time: 
Thursday, March 12, 2020 - 12:30 PM
Location: 
Language Science Center (2130 H.J. Patterson)

Lunch served at 12:15, talk starts at 12:30. This week boxed lunches will be available for the first 40 attendees, so come on time or bring your own lunch!

Remote attendance through Zoom: https://umd.zoom.us/j/737125765
(Please remember to set this up in advance: you'll be prompted to install an app to join the meeting.)

Adam Fisbein (NACS)

Sequence in birdsong: What humans assume and what birds are telling us

Abstract: Birdsong is a popular animal model for human speech and language. In terms of development and vocal learning, the parallels between the systems are compelling and well-supported. But in other respects, researchers and laypeople have often been guided by assumptions about what birds hear in their songs and what features are important to them. Here, I focus on several recent experiments investigating what zebra finches, a songbird species, are listening to in their songs. One experiment shows that the birds are very sensitive to subtle differences in the delivery of song syllables, much more than they are sensitive to sequence changes. The other set of experiments shows that zebra finches are insensitive to some but not all sequence changes – and that there are stark differences between how the birds perceive sequence and how researchers describe the sequential patterns in their songs. Together these results highlight important distinctions between birdsong and human speech and also shared features that often go overlooked.

GALLERY:

VIDEO: