[PLing] Talk by Olga Feher

Nikolaus Ritt nikolaus.ritt at univie.ac.at
Wed Mar 26 18:20:23 CET 2014

Im Rahmen des Doktorandenseminars am Institut für Kognitionsbiologie 
findet morgen folgender Vortrag statt, zu dem Kollegen und Kolleginnen 
herzlich eingeladen sind.

*Olga Feher*
University of Edinburgh

*Social learning and evolution of vocal communication in birds and humans***

Birdsong is a widely accepted model for studying vocal learning, the 
ability underlying human communication. Similarly to humans, songbirds 
learn their songs by imitating adult individuals and achieve complex 
vocal behaviour gradually during a sensitive period in early 
development. Young birds raised in complete social and acoustic 
isolation produce abnormal songs. However, when young birds are tutored 
with such abnormal songs in an iterated learning paradigm, the songs 
gradually, over a few generations, acquire normal, wild-type 
characteristics. Wild-type song also appears without any external song 
input when young birds are tutored with their own songs during 
development. Although wild-type song culture appears in different 
situations, the details of song changes depend on the social 
environment. Social information also affects how people acquire 
languages. My newest research on humans focuses on how language learning 
is affected by teacher identity and the distribution of variability 
within and across teachers. I will present the results of an artificial 
language learning experiment that showed that learners acquire 
unpredictable, probabilistic linguistic variation when learning from 
variable teachers but copy the majority behaviour, regularising on the 
most common variant, when learning from consistent teachers who exhibit 
variability collectively.

Ort: Seminarraum des Instituts für Kognitionsbiologie
Biozentrum Althanstraße
Althanstraße 14
1090 Wien

Zeit: Donnerstag, 27. März 2014, 15 Uhr
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