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Territorial raven pairs are sensitive to structural changes in simulated acoustic displays of conspecifics

Reber, Stephan Alexander LU ; Boeckle, Markus ; Szipl, Georgine ; Janisch, Judith ; Bugnyar, Thomas and Fitch, W. Tecumseh (2016) In Animal Behaviour 116. p.153-162
Abstract
Human language involves combining items into meaningful, syntactically structured wholes. The evolutionary origin of syntactic abilities has been investigated by testing pattern perception capacities in nonhuman animals. New World primates can respond spontaneously to structural changes in acoustic sequences and songbirds can learn to discriminate between various patterns in operant tasks. However, there is no conclusive evidence that songbirds respond spontaneously to structural changes in patterns without reinforcement or training. In this study, we tested pattern perception capacities of common ravens, Corvus corax, in a habituation–discrimination playback experiment. To enhance stimulus salience, call recordings of male and female... (More)
Human language involves combining items into meaningful, syntactically structured wholes. The evolutionary origin of syntactic abilities has been investigated by testing pattern perception capacities in nonhuman animals. New World primates can respond spontaneously to structural changes in acoustic sequences and songbirds can learn to discriminate between various patterns in operant tasks. However, there is no conclusive evidence that songbirds respond spontaneously to structural changes in patterns without reinforcement or training. In this study, we tested pattern perception capacities of common ravens, Corvus corax, in a habituation–discrimination playback experiment. To enhance stimulus salience, call recordings of male and female ravens were used as acoustic elements, combined to create artificial territorial displays as target patterns. We habituated captive territorial raven pairs to displays following a particular pattern and subsequently exposed them to several test and control playbacks. Subjects spent more time visually orienting towards the loudspeaker in the discrimination phase when they heard structurally novel call combinations, violating the pattern presented during habituation. This demonstrates that songbirds, much like primates, can be sensitive to structural changes in auditory patterns and respond to them spontaneously, without training. (Less)
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author
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
call combination, common raven, pattern perception, songbird, spontaneous response, territoriality
in
Animal Behaviour
volume
116
pages
10 pages
publisher
Elsevier Ltd
ISSN
1095-8282
DOI
10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.04.005
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
aa39165a-9145-4fbc-8f24-fc33c188d976
date added to LUP
2018-10-02 23:51:09
date last changed
2019-10-02 04:00:32
@article{aa39165a-9145-4fbc-8f24-fc33c188d976,
  abstract     = {Human language involves combining items into meaningful, syntactically structured wholes. The evolutionary origin of syntactic abilities has been investigated by testing pattern perception capacities in nonhuman animals. New World primates can respond spontaneously to structural changes in acoustic sequences and songbirds can learn to discriminate between various patterns in operant tasks. However, there is no conclusive evidence that songbirds respond spontaneously to structural changes in patterns without reinforcement or training. In this study, we tested pattern perception capacities of common ravens, Corvus corax, in a habituation–discrimination playback experiment. To enhance stimulus salience, call recordings of male and female ravens were used as acoustic elements, combined to create artificial territorial displays as target patterns. We habituated captive territorial raven pairs to displays following a particular pattern and subsequently exposed them to several test and control playbacks. Subjects spent more time visually orienting towards the loudspeaker in the discrimination phase when they heard structurally novel call combinations, violating the pattern presented during habituation. This demonstrates that songbirds, much like primates, can be sensitive to structural changes in auditory patterns and respond to them spontaneously, without training.},
  author       = {Reber, Stephan Alexander and Boeckle, Markus and Szipl, Georgine and Janisch, Judith and Bugnyar, Thomas and Fitch, W. Tecumseh},
  issn         = {1095-8282},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {153--162},
  publisher    = {Elsevier Ltd},
  series       = {Animal Behaviour},
  title        = {Territorial raven pairs are sensitive to structural changes in simulated acoustic displays of conspecifics},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.04.005},
  doi          = {10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.04.005},
  volume       = {116},
  year         = {2016},
}