Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Neural Circuits for Interactive Vocal Coordination

12:00 PM

East Hall #4448

Please contact Natalie Tronson with any questions. 

Featuring Biopsychology Faculty Candidate
Dr. Jonathan Benichov, Scientist
Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence
Seewiesen, Germany

Vocal turn-taking is a universal aspect of spoken conversations, where speakers pause to listen, anticipate breaks in their partner’s speech, and respond with remarkably short delays, usually around

Dr. Jonathan Benichov

200 milliseconds. This real-time regulation of vocal output based on acoustic input, represents a fundamental form of vocal control. However, little is known about the neural pathways that enable the social coordination of vocalizations. Songbirds offer a tractable model for exploring the circuits that govern vocal behavior. Zebra finches, for instance, exchange rapidly alternating contact calls.

In my research, I have employed a combination of ethological, neurophysiological, and computational methods, to uncover how an avian forebrain pathway coordinates the timing of these social calls. This work forms a foundation for further investigation into how developmental experience shapes vocal circuits and behavior, how they vary across sexually dimorphic brains, and whether similar vocal mechanisms are shared across diverse vertebrate species.