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April 23rd, 2024

BRAMS-CRBLM Lecture Series – Conference by Dr. Jon T. Sakata, Department of Biology, McGill University

Wednesday, May 8th, 2024, from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m., followed by a cocktail.  Come and meet him in person!

  •  Université de Montréal, Pavilion Marie-Victorin, Room D-427 : Please register via the Doodle link.  
  • Please note that due to unforeseen circumstances, the lecture will not be available via Zoom as previously announced.
  • The lecture will not be streaming live on Facebook.

 Speech and music “universals” within birdsong

 Abstract: Despite the large variation in the acoustic structure of speech and music around the world, there are numerous acoustic patterns that are common among languages and musical styles (i.e., “universals”). Given the prevalence of these patterns, it is important to discern the factors that contribute to these patterns, and one possibility is that speech and music universals reflect biological predispositions in vocal learning and production. Songbirds offer powerful opportunities to understand the biological mechanisms underlying vocal acquisition and performance. This is because songbirds learn their vocalizations in a manner that resembles how humans acquite speech and music, because the anatomical substrates for vocal production are shared across songbirds and humans, and because songbirds possess neural circuits for song learning and performance that are functionally analogous to those subserving speech and music. For this talk I will discuss the prevalence of speech and music universals within the songs of songbirds and highlight the contribution of learning predispositions to the emergence of these patterns.


 Bio: Prof. Sakata is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at McGill University.  He received his PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Texas at Austin, and then trained as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco.  His lab investigates biological mechanisms underlying song learning and performance in songbirds as well as parallels between birdsong, speech, and music.  His research is funded by the FRQNT, NSERC, CFI, and CIHR.

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BRAMS (International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research) is a unique laboratory dedicated to research excellence in the study of music and auditory cognition with a focus on neuroscience. BRAMS is located in Montreal and jointly affiliated with the University of Montreal and McGill University.


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