Prenatal auditory learning in avian vocal learners and non-learners.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
Diane Colombelli-NégrelSonia Kleindorfer

Abstract

Understanding when learning begins is critical for identifying the factors that shape both the developmental course and the function of information acquisition. Until recently, sufficient development of the neural substrates for any sort of vocal learning to begin in songbirds was thought to be reached well after hatching. New research shows that embryonic gene activation and the outcome of vocal learning can be modulated by sound exposure in ovo. We tested whether avian embryos across lineages differ in their auditory response strength and sound learning in ovo, which we studied in vocal learning (Maluridae, Geospizidae) and vocal non-learning (Phasianidae, Spheniscidae) taxa. While measuring heart rate in ovo, we exposed embryos to (i) conspecific or heterospecific vocalizations, to determine their response strength, and (ii) conspecific vocalizations repeatedly, to quantify cardiac habituation, a form of non-associative learning. Response strength towards conspecific vocalizations was greater in two species with vocal production learning compared to two species without. Response patterns consistent with non-associative auditory learning occurred in all species. Our results demonstrate a capacity to perceive and learn to reco...Continue Reading

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Sep 7, 2021·Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences·Diane Colombelli-NégrelSonia Kleindorfer

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Citations

Sep 7, 2021·Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences·Sonja C VernesPeter J B Slater
Sep 7, 2021·Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences·Diane Colombelli-NégrelSonia Kleindorfer

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