Auditory scene analysis in budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) and zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

Micheal Dent, Erikson Neilans, Mary M Flaherty, Amanda K. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Deciphering the auditory scene is a problem faced by humans and animals alike. However, when faced with overlapping sounds from multiple locations, listeners are still able to attribute the individual sound objects to their individual sound-producing sources. Here, we determined which characteristics of sounds are important for streaming versus segregating in birds. Budgerigars and zebra finches were trained using operant conditioning procedures on an identification task to peck one key when they heard a whole zebra finch song and to peck another when they heard a zebra finch song missing a middle syllable. Once the birds were trained to a criterion performance level on those endpoint stimuli, probe trials were introduced on a small proportion of all trials. The probe songs contained modifications of the incomplete training song's missing syllable. When the bird responded as if the probe was a whole song, it suggests they streamed together the altered syllable and the rest of the song. When the bird responded non-whole song, it suggests they segregated the altered probe from the rest of the song. Results show that some features, such as spectrotemporal similarity and location, are more important for streaming than other features, such as timing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number010041
JournalProceedings of Meetings on Acoustics
StatePublished - Jun 19 2013
Externally publishedYes
Event21st International Congress on Acoustics, ICA 2013 - 165th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America - Montreal, QC, Canada
Duration: Jun 2 2013Jun 7 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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