What female starlings can tell us about song learning and perception
Contributor(s)Ethologie animale et humaine (EthoS)
Université de Rennes 1 (UR1) - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
Keywords[SDV] Life Sciences [q-bio]
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Birdsong has become a privileged model to study the neural bases of vocal learning and, as such, has been extensively studied during the 3-4 last decades. However, to date, studies on song learning have been mostly concerned with males alone. Yet, females can provide us valuable insights into the context of vocal learning and of disruption and acquisition of auditory perception. Thus, we have recently shown that young female starlings need to experience a direct contact with an adult female in order to learn song, and that they show neither social bond with nor vocal copying from males. Using this peculiar property, we could show that social segregation can, as much as physical separation, alter the development of a central auditory area. In this paper, we will present our latest findings in the study of song perception and learning in female starlings, at the behavioural and neural levels. We will discuss these findings in relation to the role of social influences and selective attention not only on song learning but also on the development of central auditory processing.