Munich Neuroscience Calendar


14.02.2019, 13:00 Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie
until 14:00
Event Type: Talk
Speaker: Kate Buchanan
Institute: Deakin University

Title: Effects of early life on vocal communication

Seminar room, house 4
82319 Seewiesen

Host: Michaela Hau

In wild animals - and also for humans, the start you receive in life has profound and long lasting impacts on your behaviour, physiology and fitness. I am fascinated by how early life experiences impact on avian cognition and development, particularly focusing on the trait of vocal communication. The development of the songbird brain and consequent song production is known to exhibit considerable plasticity in relation to environmental conditions. Whilst stimulation enables neural development and complex cognitive abilities to develop, environmental challenges cause stunting during periods of neural growth and reduce the capacity of animals to perform complex cognitive tasks. My work focuses particularly on the impact of developmental stress on neural control mechanisms and song output in a number of songbird species. Our recent work show that the mechanism not only involves volumetric changes in the embryonic brain, but also the capacity of this brain to learn new vocal signatures. We know that early developmental stress affects song within generations and my current work is testing the potential for such effects to be mediated across generations, both through environmental stress and parental communication. In recent years we have become interested in prenatal communication, the impact on the developing brain and its relevance for long term developmental programing in birds. Here, I will present the current research from my group addressing the effects of early life experience on neural development, behaviour and physiology in zebra finches.

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