Auditory Environment and Vocal Development in Birds

  • Masakazu Konishi
Part of the Perception and Perceptual Development book series (PPD, volume 1)


Bird voice, a seemingly esoteric topic for scientific inquiry, is known to exhibit some of the most interesting phenomena of behavioral development such as the effects of sensory exposure, deprivation, and isolation, inborn perceptual preference, and critical impressionable period. Sexual imprinting in birds shares some of these attributes (Immelman, 1972a,b). The development of response properties in the cat visual cortex is another example (Wiesel and Hubel, 1965; Barlow, 1975; see also Mitchell, this volume). The perception of speech sounds in human infants seems to show some similarities to song development in birds (Eimas, 1975; see also Strange and Jenkins, this volume). The study of developmental plasticity in avian vocalizations has been greatly facilitated both by the objective means of describing voice and by the ease with which auditory environment can be manipulated. The results suggest that bird song can be a useful model to obtain deeper insights into the general principles of behavioral development. The main aim of this chapter is to discuss the ontogeny of bird voice as it relates to these principles rather than to present a descriptive review of the field, which is already available (Konishi and Nottebohm, 1969; Marler and Mundinger, 1971).


Zebra Finch Auditory Feedback Young Bird Auditory Environment Song Sparrow 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Masakazu Konishi
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of BiologyCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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