Sunday, May 20, 2012

Is the ability to distinguish 'speech sound contrasts' strictly human or also present in birds?

Carel ten Cate
For various reasons the song of songbirds are currently considered to be the closest animal analogue to language. This raises questions about to what extent particular perceptual and cognitive abilities that are considered to be closely linked to the production, perception and learning of language are present in songbirds. In an upcoming SMART-Talk at the University of Amsterdam on Friday 25 May 2012, Prof. dr Carel ten Cate (Leiden University) will address two of such abilities.

One concerns speech perception: is the ability to distinguish specific speech sound contrasts strictly human or also present in birds? The other one concerns the ability for detecting and learning particular grammar rules, using the paradigm of artificial grammars: what is the level of complexity that birds can cope with? These findings in birds will be related to those obtained in other animal species.

ResearchBlogging.orgten Cate, C., Verzijden, M., & Etman, E. (2006). Sexual Imprinting Can Induce Sexual Preferences for Exaggerated Parental Traits Current Biology, 16 (11), 1128-1132 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2006.03.068

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