Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Michelle Carney Rose Hills

Effects of Arginine Vasotocin on Voice Discrimination in the Zebra Finch

The zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) is a highly social passerine that heavily relies on vocal communication during social interactions. Over one third of its brain is dedicated to auditory functions. Vocal recognition has been studied previously in mated pairs of this species using a particular type of calls, the distance call. However, zebra finches communicate with a full repertoire of vocalizations. Here I am investigating whether they can discriminate voices of other individuals. More precisely, Im testing the capacity of zebra finches to discriminate between different emitters irrespective of the vocalization category produced by the emitter. I will also look at the effects of arginine vasotocin (AVT), a neuropeptide implicated in regulating social behavior, on these discrimination capabilities. My investigations will be both behavioral and neurophysiological and I hope to provide more insight to voice discrimination and the role of AVT in the perception of acoustic social cues.

Message To Sponsor

I am ecstatic to have this opportunity to conduct my research full-time this summer! Ive worked in the Theunissen lab for the past two years and this SURF/Rose Hills fellowship allows me to go above and beyond what I could ever do in a semester. I am able to devote myself to all of the processes needed to complete a full experiment, which cant just be taught in some class. The skills I learn will help me become a better critical thinker and scientist, and I will carry them with me well beyond this summer. Thank you so much to the Rose Hills foundation and the Theunissen Lab for all of their help and support!
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Major: Molecular and Cell Biology, Cognitive Science
Mentor: Frederic Theunissen
Sponsor: Rose Hills Foundation
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