Categories, concepts, and calls: auditory perceptual mechanisms and cognitive abilities across different types of birds.

Allison Hahn, Lauren Guillette, Marisa Hoeschele, Robert Cook, Christopher Sturdy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Although involving different animals, preparations, and objectives, our laboratories (Sturdy's and Cook's) are mutually interested in category perception and concept formation. The Sturdy laboratory has a history of studying perceptual categories in songbirds, while Cook laboratory has a history of studying abstract concept formation in pigeons. Recently, we undertook a suite of collaborative projects to combine our investigations to examine abstract concept formation in songbirds, and perception of songbird vocalizations in pigeons. This talk will include our recent findings of songbird category perception, songbird abstract concept formation (same/different task), and early results from pigeons' processing of songbird vocalizations in a same/different task. Our findings indicate that (1) categorization in birds seems to be most heavily influenced by acoustic, rather than genetic or experiential factors (2) songbirds treat their vocalizations as perceptual categories, both at the level of the note and species/whole call, (3) chickadees, like pigeons, can perceive abstract, same-different relations, and (4) pigeons are not as good at discriminating chickadee vocalizations as songbirds (chickadees and finches). Our findings suggest that although there are commonalities in complex auditory processing among birds, there are potentially important comparative differences between songbirds and non-songbirds in their treatment of certain types of auditory objects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Meetings on Acoustics
Place of PublicationMelville, New York
PublisherAcoustical Society of America (ASA)
ISBN (Electronic)1939-800X
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
EventThe 21st International Congress on Acoustics - Montreal , Canada
Duration: 2 Jul 20137 Jul 2013


ConferenceThe 21st International Congress on Acoustics


  • Category perception
  • Concept formation
  • Auditory objects
  • Bird vocalisations


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