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Neighborhood-statistics reveal complex dynamics of song acquisition in the zebra finch


Kollmorgen, Sepp; Hahnloser, Richard; Mante, Valerio (2019). Neighborhood-statistics reveal complex dynamics of song acquisition in the zebra finch. bioRxiv 595512v1, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Motor behaviors are continually shaped by a variety of processes such as environmental influences, development, and learning1,2. The resulting behavioral changes are commonly quantified based on hand-picked features3–10 (e.g. syllable pitch11) and assuming discrete classes of behaviors (e.g. distinct syllables)3–5,9,10,12–17. Such methods may generalize poorly across behaviors and species and are necessarily biased. Here we present an account of behavioral change based on nearest-neighbor statistics18–23 that avoids such biases and apply it to song development in the juvenile zebra finch3. First, we introduce the concept of repertoire dating, whereby each syllable rendition is dated with a “pseudo” production-day corresponding to the day when similar renditions were typical in the behavioral repertoire. Differences in pseudo production-day across renditions isolate the components of vocal variability congruent with the long-term changes due to vocal learning and development. This variability is large, as about 10% of renditions have pseudo production-days falling more than 10 days into the future (anticipations) or into the past (regressions) relative to their actual production time. Second, we obtain a holistic, yet low-dimensional, description of vocal change in terms of a behavioral trajectory, which reproduces the pairwise similarities between renditions grouped by production time and pseudo production-day24. The behavioral trajectory reveals multiple, previously unrecognized components of behavioral change operating at distinct time-scales. These components interact differently across the behavioral repertoire—diurnal change in regressions undergoes only weak overnight consolidation4,5, whereas anticipations and typical renditions consolidate fully2,6,25. Our nearest-neighbor methods yield model-free descriptions of how behavior evolves relative to itself, rather than relative to a potentially arbitrary, experimenter-defined, goal3–5,11. Because of their generality, our methods appear well-suited to comparing learning across behaviors and species1,26–32, and between biological and artificial systems.

Abstract

Motor behaviors are continually shaped by a variety of processes such as environmental influences, development, and learning1,2. The resulting behavioral changes are commonly quantified based on hand-picked features3–10 (e.g. syllable pitch11) and assuming discrete classes of behaviors (e.g. distinct syllables)3–5,9,10,12–17. Such methods may generalize poorly across behaviors and species and are necessarily biased. Here we present an account of behavioral change based on nearest-neighbor statistics18–23 that avoids such biases and apply it to song development in the juvenile zebra finch3. First, we introduce the concept of repertoire dating, whereby each syllable rendition is dated with a “pseudo” production-day corresponding to the day when similar renditions were typical in the behavioral repertoire. Differences in pseudo production-day across renditions isolate the components of vocal variability congruent with the long-term changes due to vocal learning and development. This variability is large, as about 10% of renditions have pseudo production-days falling more than 10 days into the future (anticipations) or into the past (regressions) relative to their actual production time. Second, we obtain a holistic, yet low-dimensional, description of vocal change in terms of a behavioral trajectory, which reproduces the pairwise similarities between renditions grouped by production time and pseudo production-day24. The behavioral trajectory reveals multiple, previously unrecognized components of behavioral change operating at distinct time-scales. These components interact differently across the behavioral repertoire—diurnal change in regressions undergoes only weak overnight consolidation4,5, whereas anticipations and typical renditions consolidate fully2,6,25. Our nearest-neighbor methods yield model-free descriptions of how behavior evolves relative to itself, rather than relative to a potentially arbitrary, experimenter-defined, goal3–5,11. Because of their generality, our methods appear well-suited to comparing learning across behaviors and species1,26–32, and between biological and artificial systems.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Neuroinformatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Language:English
Date:2019
Deposited On:10 Feb 2020 10:58
Last Modified:10 Feb 2020 11:00
Series Name:bioRxiv
ISSN:2164-7844
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1101/595512

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