Control of Vocal Production in Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus)
Dooling, Robert J.
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Budgerigars engage in dynamic vocal interactions with conspecifics, learn their vocalizations in a rich social environment, and rely to some extent on auditory feedback to acquire and maintain normal vocal output. However, little is known about the exact role of sensory input and sensory feedback in the control of vocal production in these birds. For example, we know that these birds learn best in a social environment that contains both auditory and visual information, yet we know very little about how this information guides and influences vocal production. Although we suspect that budgerigars rely on auditory feedback for the learning and maintenance of vocal behavior, we do not know whether there are refined, compensatory feedback mechanisms similar to that of humans. Finally, we do not know whether, or to what extent, calls can be modified in structure during learning. This dissertation describes a series of experiments that use more highly controlled and regimented conditions than previous studies with songbirds to investigate the control of vocal production in budgerigars and to provide a more detailed description of some of the mechanisms underlying vocal learning in budgerigars.