The Physics and Neural Control of Birdsong

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Global IP Fellows Meeting

Gabriel Mindlin
Professor, Department de Fisica, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Physics and Neural Control of Birdsong
In recent years birdsong has developed into an extremely interesting problem for researchers in several branches of the scientific community. The reason is that of the approximately 10,000 species of birds known to exist, some 4000 share with humans (and just a few other species in the animal kingdom) a remarkable feature: their acquisition of vocalization requires a certain degree of exposure to a tutor. Between the complex neural architecture involved in the process and the song itself, stands a delicate apparatus that the bird must control with incredible precision. This talk deals with the physical mechanisms at work in the production of birdsong, the acoustic effects that the avian vocal organ is capable of generating, and the nature of the neural instructions needed to drive it. The talk includes the status, opportunities and challenges for mathematical modelling of the system.