One of the challenges of research in vocal
communication in birds is to understand how complex sounds,
particularly vocalizations, are represented in the auditory
system and how these representations are adapted to specific
ecological and social constraints. Focusing on mate recognition
in a songbird model, the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata, my
PhD project aims to investigate the ability of communication
calls to secure the transmission of information about the sender’s
individual identity in spite of environmental constraints (propagation-induced
degradation, external noise).
Using long-distance calls, I first performed an acoustical analysis
to quantify and characterize the degradation of female and male
zebra finch calls during propagation, focusing on the features
that carry information about individual identity. Second, using
conditioning experiments I assessed the psycho-auditory abilities
of zebra finches allowing them to extract information about
individual identity in degraded vocalizations. Finally, I am
in the process of investigating the neural representation of
distance calls in the auditory system, focusing on the quantification
of the neural discriminability for degraded calls from different
individuals at high levels of the auditory system.
My PhD project involves collaboration with
the University of California, Berkeley, where I performed the
neurophysiology experiments and part of the conditioning experiments.
It is supervised by Nicolas MATHEVON (Univ. J. Monnet) and Frédéric
THEUNISSEN (Univ. of California, Berkeley).
This project is funded by the French Ministère de l'Education
Nationale et de la Recherche, the France-Berkeley Fund, a Monahan
fellowship and a Fulbright fellowship.
Teaching assistant in comparative anatomy
and human physiology.
S. C. Mouterde et al. (2012).
Triumph displays inform eavesdropping little blue penguins of
new dominance asymmetries. Animal Behaviour 83, 605-611.