University of Cambridge > > Zangwill Club >  A framework for studying the neurobiology of female choice and group cohesion in a social songbird.

A framework for studying the neurobiology of female choice and group cohesion in a social songbird.

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  • UserProfessor Marc Schmidt (University of Pennsylvania)
  • ClockFriday 04 March 2022, 16:30-18:00
  • HouseZoom meeting.

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Courtship is complex and is influenced by many factors including social context, hormone levels, and environmental stimuli. The specific neural circuits that underlie the regulation of this suite of behaviors is poorly understood. My laboratory is investigating the role that a neural circuit known as the ‘song system”, which has exclusively been studied in the context of singing in males, plays in regulating courtship behavior in females. My talk will discuss work in the laboratory, where we investigate the neural bases of female choice. I will also talk about preliminary work from our new outdoor “smart aviary”, where we use newly developed computer-vision approaches to non-invasively track moment-to-moment behavioral interactions, both vocal and non-vocal, in a stable group of 16 birds during the entire breeding season. This work aims to quantify courtship interactions in the group and identify patterns that become dysregulated following lesions to the “song system” circuit.

Bio: Marc Schmidt is a Professor in the Department of Biology and Neuroscience Program at the University of Pennsylvania. His work has focused on the neural bases of vocal production in songbirds focusing on questions ranging from state-dependent regulation of auditory processing to investigating the role of brainstem circuits in the generation of learned vocal sequences. After doctoral work focused primarily on neural development, he switched to studying songbirds during his postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Masakazu Konishi at Caltech. His current work has moved in a more behavioral direction focusing on the biology of female choice and the role of female signaling in establishing social group dynamics.

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