Dina LipkindCity University of New York, NY, USA
- 17 Dec 2021
- 11 h 30 min - 23 h 30 min
- Neuroscience Seminar Series
The challenges of learning a complex skill – lessons from songbirds, by Dina Lipkind
Summary The challenges of learning a complex skill – lessons from songbirds
How does one learn a complex motor skill with many constituent parts, such as a song, a dance, a language, or a sports game? In both humans and animals, learning skilled behaviors involves a gradual approximation of an internal representation of the desired behavior, rather than on external rewards or punishments. Finding a way to adjust one’s own behavior to match a complex internal goal is a computationally daunting task; it may be more efficient not to treat the entire behavior as a single goal, but instead to divide it into sub-goals and use distinct subroutines to attain each. We find that young Zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) employ such “divide and conquer” approach to imitate the elaborate songs of adult individuals, using a combination of strategies for learning distinct levels of their song hierarchy. This may be an adaptation to the efficient learning of a complex vocal skill within a relatively short developmental time window.
Short Biography I obtained a PhD in Zoology from Tel Aviv University, and did my post-doctoral studies in the Laboratory of Vocal Learning of Ofer Tchernichovski at Hunter College, the City University of New York. I am currently an Assistant Professor at York College of The City University of New York. Research in my lab focuses on identifying the algorithms employed by animals and humans for the learning of complex skilled behaviors, using vocal learning in zebra finches as a model system.
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