- Scholarship in 2014 at Columbia University
Songbirds, like humans, communicate by the exchange of vocal signals. These birds produce song, which is an acoustically complex and learned vocalization. Song is crucial for courtship, pair bond maintenance, and individual recognition.
Different birds produce distinct songs, which differ in temporal and spectral parameters such as rhythm and pitch. Birds can easily distinguish between songs of different individuals, and the acoustic features of song guide their behaviors. For example, female birds prefer songs of male birds that have more stable pitch.
How does the brain encode and extract the acoustic features of song that are important for behavior? Song elicits diverse patterns of activity in neurons in the auditory forebrain of songbirds. So's goal is to understand the neural representations of complex sounds that give rise to different perceptual dimensions using neurophysiology, behavioral testing and computational methods.