Dr. Clementine VIGNAL

Associate Professor - Univ. J. Monnet

Personal page:     http://cvignal.googlepages.com

Université Jean Monnet
UMR 8195
rue Michelon, 42023 St Etienne


Research Interest

     Birdsongs are elaborate and highly structured vocal patterns rendered in syntactical order and result from imitation learning and dynamic sensory-motor feedback. In comparison, bird calls, short monosyllabic notes most of the time, look simplistic. Songs are mainly delivered in the contexts of reproduction and intrasexual competition, whereas calls are evoked in a diversity of contexts such as social grouping, information sharing about resource location, aggressive interactions or alarm about predation. Thus, bird calls could represent the vocal basis of a communication network and their properties could participate in understanding the social complexity of birds.

    The zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) represents the most widely used model system for songbird studies. Compared to the impressive amount of accumulated knowledge on zebra finches’ singing behavior, little is known on their call use.
My research work is centered around the zebra finch’s acoustic communication network based on calls using a variety of approaches - from field and laboratory ethology to neurobiology.

Current Projects & Collaborations

I- Project on the zebra finch’s acoustic communication network.

In collaboration with Nicolas Mathevon, I’m trying to answer to three important questions of social networking:

(1) Knowing who is who: what are the acoustic processes of individual recognition between network’s members?

(2) When one’s behavior is influenced by his network: does the social context influence zebra finches’ communication behaviors?

(3) Experiencing changes in the network’s configuration: do communication behaviors depend on network’s structure?

This project has been funded by an ANR grant, and has involved collaborations with:
-Catherine Del Negro, CNPS-Université Paris Sud: electrophysiology,
-Stéphane Mottin & Thomas Olivier, LHC CNRS UMR5516: Optical tomography,
-Annemie Van der Linden, Bioimaging Lab, University of Antwerp: fMRI.

This project has involved 2 PhD students under my supervision :
Julie Elie (2007-2010 ; now postdoc researcher at UC Berkeley, USA)
Emilie Perez (2009-2014, co-tutelle with Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia).

As well as several postdoc researchers (Alexandra Hernandez, Florence Levréro, Séverine Ligout, Hervé Mulard).

II- Project on the acoustic partnership between zebra finch mates.

The monogamous pair bond in birds represents a real partnership: male and female work as a team during chicks rearing and synchronize numerous activities. The coordination between mates is reached by constant communication between the partners. In this framework, my research objective is to understand the acoustic communication processes linked to the strong social partnership of the monogamous pair-bond in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata).

This project is currently funded by the University of Saint-Etienne (International projects funds), the CNRS and the Fyssen foundation (postdoctoral fellowship to Mylène Mariette).


      I'm currently in charge of the University courses that prepare to the French national exam to become High-school teacher => Classe de Préparation au Capes Sciences de la Vie et de la Terre UJM - IUFM de Lyon. I'm also teaching ethology and neuroethology to Master students, as well as physiology at undergrad level (licence).

Selected Publications

Elie JE, Soula HA, Mathevon N, Vignal C, in press. Dynamics of communal vocalizations in a social songbird, the zebra finch. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Vignal C, Mathevon N, in press. Effect of acoustic cue modifications on evoked vocal response to calls in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Journal of Comparative Psychology.

Elie JE, Mariette MM, Soula HA, Griffith SC, Mathevon N, Vignal C, 2010. Vocal communication at the nest between mates in wild zebra finches: a private vocal duet? Animal Behaviour 80:597-605.

Mulard H, Vignal C, Pelletier L, Blanc A, Mathevon N, 2010. From preferential response to parental calls to sex-specific response to conspecific calls in juvenile zebra finches. Animal Behaviour. 80:189-195.

Vignal C, Boumans T, Montcel B, Ramstein S, Verhoye M, Van Audekerke J, Mathevon N, Van der Linden A, Mottin S, 2008. Measuring brain hemodynamic changes in a songbird: responses to hypercapnia measured with functional MRI and near-infrared spectroscopy. Physics in Medicine and Biology, 53:2457-2470.

Vignal C, Andru J, Mathevon N, 2005. Social context modulates behavioural and brain immediate early gene responses to sound in male songbird. European Journal of Neuroscience, 22:949-955.

Vignal C, Mathevon N, Mottin S, 2004. Audience drives male songbird response to partner’s voice. Nature, 430(6998):448-51.


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