Maria Ji L&S Sciences
Investigating the Egyptian Fruit Bat as a Mammalian Model for Vocal Learning
Vocal learning is the ability to produce vocalizations using auditory feedback to guide learning. Vocal learning has been explored extensively in songbirds and humans, but never within a tractable mammalian model species. By using two approaches, mapping vocal motor pathways and identifying auditory networks, I aim to investigate the neural circuitry of vocal learning in Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus). From a systems neuroscience perspective, my research will reveal mammalian neuroanatomical underpinnings and build the foundations for a mammalian model system of vocal learning. My findings will elucidate the mechanisms driving vocal learning in bats and have strong applications towards supporting research related to the pathologies of human speech and language disorders.