Modeling birdsong production and control

Prof. Coen Elemans

May 8, 2012, 10 a.m. S2 416

Like human infants, most songbirds acquire their beautiful songs by
imitation. They can generate an incredible range of sounds that are
controlled by complicated neural networks driving the uniquely avian
sound-producing organ: the syrinx. To understand how neural signals are
translated into acoustic signals, I study the neuromuscular control and
biomechanics of sound production in the syrinx. Instead of working from the
brain down to the vocal organ, my aim is to define neural control parameters
and constraints by understanding the function of the syrinx. I use a variety
of in vivo and in vitro experimental techniques such as electro- and muscle
physiology and am developing a preparation to study sound production in
vitro. Hand in hand with experimental work, we now plan to also use
theoretical approaches to understand neural control by developing
mathematical models of sound production.