[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus), canaries (Serinus canaria), and zebra finches (Poephila guttata castanotis) were tested for their ability to discriminate among distance calls of each species. For comparison, starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) were tested on the same sounds. Response latencies to detect a change in a repeating background of sound were taken as a measure of the perceptual similarity among calls. All 4 species showed clear evidence of 3 perceptual categories corresponding to the calls of the 3 species. Also, budgerigars, canaries, and zebra finches showed an enhanced ability to discriminate among calls of their own species over the calls of the others. Starlings discriminated more efficiently among canary calls than among budgerigar or zebra finch calls. The results show species differences in discrimination of species-specific acoustic communication signals and provide insight into the nature of specialized perceptual processes.
Journal of Comparative Psychology 04/1992; 106(1):20-8. · 1.89 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Temporal modulation transfer functions (TMTF) were obtained from four European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) using a psychophysical Go/NoGo procedure combined with the method of constant stimuli. The TMTF for a continuous, broad-band noise of 55 dB SPL had a low-pass characteristic with a cut-off frequency of 123 Hz. For an 800 ms gated stimulus of the same sound-pressure level, the TMTF had the shape of a band-pass filter with the most sensitive modulation frequency at around 20 Hz. At 75 dB the band-pass shape of the TMTF was preserved, whereas at 35 dB SPL the TMTF had a low-pass characteristic. The cut-off frequency of the TMTF for continuous noise depends on which part of the spectrum carries the information on the envelope fluctuations. If only sound energy below 1 or 1.5 kHz is modulated, then the cut-off frequencies are 40 and 38 Hz, respectively. If only sound above 3 kHz carries the information on the modulation, then the cut-off frequency is 125 Hz and the shape of the TMTF is similar to that found for broadband noise. The results are discussed with respect to the coding of sinusoidal amplitude modulations by the auditory system and to different measures of time, frequency and intensity resolution in the starling.
Hearing Research 04/1991; 52(1):1-11. · 2.54 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) and zebra finches (Poephila guttata) share a common functional class of vocalizations called distance calls. The perception of species-specific distance calls by both species was measured with a habituation-dishabituation operant paradigm. Changes in discrimination performance were noted as listening conditions were modified or stimulus properties were altered. Both species showed better performance for calls of their own species. For zebra finches this tendency increased slightly when a background noise was added to the testing environment. Shifting the frequency region of the calls affected the discrimination performance of male budgerigars but not females or zebra finches. Reversing the temporal order of the calls affected the perceptual advantage for conspecific vocalizations in zebra finches but not in budgerigars. These results highlight species differences in perceiving acoustic communication signals.
Journal of Comparative Psychology 04/1991; 105(1):60-72. · 1.89 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Temporal gap detection thresholds were obtained for two species of birds, budgerigars and zebra finches, which are known to have different auditory filter bandwidths. Both species showed gap detection thresholds of about 2.5 msec for broadband noise stimuli. Comparing octave bands of noise centered at 1, 3, and 5 kHz, zebra finches showed the smallest gap thresholds for the noise band centered at 5 kHz whereas budgerigars showed the smallest gap detection thresholds for the noise band centered at 3 kHz. The results from zebra finches are generally consistent with filter theories of auditory spectro-temporal perception whereas the result from budgerigars are not. In aggregate, these comparative data suggest the relation between spectral and temporal resolving power in these two species may involve different mechanisms.
Hearing Research 01/1991; 50(1-2):185-92. · 2.54 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Three budgerigars and three zebra finches were tested for their ability to detect sinusoidal stimuli in the presence of broadband noise. Masked thresholds for 1, 2, and 4 KHz pure tones were measured with a fixed frequency condition, in which only one test frequency was presented in a session, and with an uncertain frequency condition, in which three signal frequencies were presented in random order in one session. The critical signal/noise ratios obtained in the fixed frequency condition were similar to those reported in a previous study (Okanoya and Dooling, 1987) for both species. When tested in the uncertain frequency condition, critical ratios for zebra finches increased for 1.5 dB at 1 KHz signal but remained unchanged 2 and 4 kHz. The critical ratios for budgerigars showed no difference at any frequency in the uncertain frequency condition. These results suggest that (1) budgerigars and zebra finches are similar in the degree to which attention factors are involved in the detection of signals in noise, and (2) the unusual shape of the budgerigar critical ratio function is not the result of central attentional processes.
Hearing Research 01/1991; 50(1-2):175-83. · 2.54 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A male canary from the Belgian Waterslager strain, which is known for its elevated high-frequency thresholds and a female of German Roller canary with normal high-frequency thresholds were bred. Operant techniques and a psychophysical tracking procedure were used to measure auditory sensitivity of six F1 hybrid canaries from this cross. Three patterns of auditory sensitivity were observed in the six hybrid birds. Four birds showed elevated high-frequency hearing characteristic of the Belgian Waterslager strain; one bird showed normal hearing, and one bird showed an intermediate pattern of auditory sensitivity. A spectral analysis of contact calls recorded from these F1 hybrid canaries showed a spectral distribution of energy which was intermediate between that of Belgian Waterslager strain and the German Roller strain. These results suggest there may be a relation between hearing sensitivity and the spectral distribution of energy in the calls of domestic canaries. Such hybrids may prove useful for examining the genetic basis of more complex behaviors such as vocal learning.
Hearing Research 08/1990; 46(3):271-5. · 2.54 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Three zebra finches were trained with operant techniques to respond to pure tones. Absolute thresholds were obtained for nine durations of a 3-kHz tone and five durations of a 1-kHz tone. The temporal integration functions were described using the negative exponential function proposed by Plomp and Bouman [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 31, 749-758 (1959)]. The time constants obtained for zebra finches are about 250 ms, which are similar to those reported for a number of species, including humans and other bird species.
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 07/1990; 87(6):2782-4. · 1.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Discrimination of synthetic speech sounds from the bilabial, alveolar, and velar voice onset time (VOT) series was studied in 5 budgerigars. The birds were trained, using operant conditioning procedures, to detect changes in a repeating background of sound consisting of a synthetic speech token. Response latencies for detection were measured and were used to construct similarity matrices. Multidimensional scaling procedures were then used to produce spatial maps of these speech sounds, in which perceptual similarity was represented by spatial proximity. The results of these experiments suggest that budgerigars discriminate among synthetic speech sounds from these three VOT continua, especially between those from the bilabial and alveolar series, in a categorical fashion.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An efficient procedure has been developed for obtaining similarity measures for complex acoustic signals in small birds. Birds were trained using operant conditioning procedures to detect changes in the repeating background of an ongoing sound. Response latencies for detection were used to construct similarity matrices. Multidimensional scaling procedures were then used to produce spatial maps of these complex sounds reflecting perceptual organization. An example using contact calls from two avian species is described.
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 05/1988; 83(4):1690-3. · 1.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Operant conditioning and multidimensional scaling procedures were used to study auditory perception of complex sounds in the budgerigar. In a same-different discrimination task, budgerigars learned to discriminate among natural vocal signals. Multidimensional scaling procedures were used to arrange these complex acoustic stimuli in a two-dimensional space reflecting perceptual organization. Results show that budgerigars group vocal stimuli according to functional and acoustical categories. Studies with only contact calls show that birds also make within-category discriminations. The acoustic cues in contact calls most salient to budgerigars appear to be quite complex. There is a suggestion that the sex of the signaler may also be encoded in these calls. The results from budgerigars were compared with the results from humans tested on some of the same sets of complex sounds.
Journal of Comparative Psychology 01/1988; 101(4):367-81. · 1.89 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A new combination of operant conditioning and psychophysical scaling procedures was used to study auditory perception in a small bird. In a same-different discrimination task, budgerigars learned to discriminate among pure tones that varied along one or more acoustic dimensions. Response latencies were used to generate a matrix of interstimulus similarities. Multidimensional scaling procedures were used to arrange these acoustic stimuli in a multidimensional space that supposedly reflects the bird's perceptual organization. For tones that varied in intensity, duration, and frequency simultaneously, budgerigars were much more sensitive to frequency changes. From a set of tones that varied only in intensity, it was possible to calculate the growth of loudness with intensity for the budgerigar. For tones that varied only in frequency, budgerigars showed evidence of an "acoustic fovea" for frequency change in the spectral region of 2-4 kHz. Budgerigars and humans also differed in their perceptual grouping of tone sequences that rise, fall, or remain constant in pitch. Surprisingly, budgerigars were much less responsive to pitch contour than were humans.
Journal of Comparative Psychology 07/1987; 101(2):139-49. · 1.89 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Canaries (Serinus canarius) of the Belgian waterslager strain from two different colonies were trained with operant techniques for audiometric testing. For both young and old birds, absolute thresholds in the middle- to high-frequency region of the audiogram were between 30 and 40 dB (SPL) higher than those of other song birds, including canaries of other strains. Thus the Belgian waterslager canary, selectively bred for loud, low-pitched song, has also developed poor high-frequency hearing.
Journal of Comparative Psychology 07/1987; 101(2):213-5. · 1.89 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Operant conditioning and a psychophysical tracking procedure were used to measure auditory thresholds for pure tones in quiet and in noise for seven species of small birds--the budgerigar, canary, cockatiel, European starling, song sparrow, swamp sparrow, and the zebra finch. Audibility curves are roughly similar among the seven birds, with the maximum sensitivity between 2 and 5 kHz and poorer sensitivity outside this narrow region. Critical ratios (signal-to-noise ratio at masked threshold) were calculated from pure-tone thresholds in noise. Except for the budgerigar, the critical ratio functions of all birds increase at the rate of 3 dB/octave. This pattern is typical of that observed in most vertebrates. Critical ratios in the budgerigar, on the other hand, decrease gradually from 0.5 kHz to 2.8 kHz and increase dramatically above 2.8 kHz. The present research demonstrates that the critical ratio function for the budgerigar is not only different from other vertebrates but also different from other birds.
Journal of Comparative Psychology 04/1987; 101(1):7-15. · 1.89 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adult canaries (Serinus canarius) from a closebred colony of the Belgian "Waterslager" strain were trained with operant techniques to respond to pure tones. A psychophysical tracking procedure was used to measure absolute auditory thresholds in quiet and in noise. Absolute thresholds in the middle- to high-frequency region of the audiogram were between 30 and 40 dB higher (4-5 standard deviations) than those typically reported for other song birds including canaries of other strains and Waterslagers tested some years ago from another colony. Thus the Millbrook colony of domestic canary--an oscine songbird which learns its vocalizations by reference to auditory information--shows unusually high absolute thresholds for pure tones.
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 11/1985; 78(4):1170-6. · 1.65 Impact Factor