Auditory rhythm perception is essential to human speech and music cognition. A recent and influential theory, the vocal learning hypothesis, proposes that vocal learning is an evolutionary and mechanistic prerequisite for auditory flexible rhythmic pattern perception. This hypothesis predicts that, compared to vocal learning species, vocal nonlearners are incapable of predictive and flexible rhythm perception in auditory stimuli. However, prior work suggests that ferrets, which are vocal nonlearners, can distinguish stimuli based on tempo or rhythmicity. Here we aim at challenging the vocal learning hypothesis by determining whether ferrets can discriminate between rhythmic and arrhythmic sounds patterns in a tempo-flexible manner.
This project is focused on behavioral training in the ferret using automated training boxes, with a close collaboration with Ani Patel (leading researcher in mental processes involved in making, perceiving, and responding to music) and Mimi Kao (who developed the paradigm in zebra finches, which are vocal learners birds).
This internship can be indiscriminately conducted in English or in French.
- Evolutionary Music Cognition: Cross-Species. A. Patel in Foundations of Music Psychology: Theory and Research, MIT press, 2019
- Vocal learning and flexible rhythm pattern perception are linked: Evidence from songbirds. Rouse, Patel, Kao. PNAS, 2021