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How is a complex vocal skill learned? Lessons from songbirds



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Dr. Dina Lipkind, a biologist presents "How is a complex vocal skill learned? Lessons from songbirds".

Humans and songbirds face a common challenge: acquiring the complex vocal repertoire of their social group. Although humans are thought to be unique in their ability to convey symbolic meaning through speech, speech and birdsong are comparable in their acoustic complexity and the mastery with which the vocalizations of adults are acquired by young individuals. Studying the vocal development of young songbirds under controlled conditions in the laboratory can shed light on the development of speech in human infants. More generally, birdsong learning is a great model for studying how animals and humans acquire complex behavioral skills.   Dr. Dina Lipkind is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Biology at York College. She is interested in the developmental learning of complex skills in animals and humans. As an animal model system, she studies how young male zebra finches learn to perform their courtship song by copying adult individuals. The insights obtained from studying songbirds are applied to the analysis of vocal development in human infants. Dr. Lipkind obtained a bachelor degree in Biology and a PhD in Zoology at Tel Aviv University, and conducted her postdoctoral studies in the Laboratory of Vocal Learning at Hunter College, CUNY.