Birdsong Group Richard Hahnloser's page
Humans are distinct from animals by their faculty of language. However, some animal species master vocal imitation and learning behaviors to a possibly superior degree to us humans. Among the animal champions of vocal learning and complex motor behaviors are songbirds. Songbirds have a highly specialized set of brain areas, termed the song system, that gives them the ability to imitate songs of other birds and improvise their own melodies. Our research interests are to elucidate the working principles and the architecture of this song system. Our aim is to perform precise measurements and apply quantitative analyses, striving for a model-based understanding of vocal production and learning. To do birdsong research in our group requires a background in natural sciences, preferentially in physics or biology.
Currently, the degree is not clear by which our findings in birds will generalize to neural mechanisms of human speech and language. Yet, there is hope that the foundations are similarly rooted in the laws of neural computation and brain organization.
What is the role of computational modeling in neuroscience? George Box puts it like this: ' Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.' In accordance with this statement, good neuroinformatics models deal with model-based data analysis.