Short Courses & Events

Parallels in learning to talk and sing: Social mechanisms of vocal learning in baby humans and songbirds

Tuesday 7th May 2024, 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM (London Time)

How do babies learn to talk? Despite the immense variety of sounds we associate with the animal world, the ability to learn a vocal repertoire is a rare phenomenon, emerging in only a handful of groups, including humans. To gain a better understanding of the development and evolution of vocal learning, we will examine the processes by which birds learn to sing and human infants learn to talk. A key parallel in the vocal development of birds and babies is the social function of immature vocalizations. The responses of adults to the plastic song of birds and the babbling of babies create social feedback that guides the young towards mature vocalizations. I will present experiments demonstrating how the immature sounds of young birds and babies regulate and are regulated by social interactions. The form and timing of these interactions have strong influences on the development of mature birdsong and language. The difficulty of measuring rapid social interchanges organized by immature vocalizing has led many to overlook their importance and assume that young songbirds and human infants learn by passive exposure followed by motor practice. My data indicate that vocal learning is an active, socially-embedded process. By creating feedback that is both inherently informative and socially relevant, structured social interaction boosts the salience of acoustic patterns in the input and facilitates learning of speech and song.

🏷️ Price £30 (UK VAT inclusive)
🎥 Recording automatically sent to all who book (even if you cannot attend live)
▶️ Rewatch as many times as you like
📜 Certificate of attendance available

Michael Goldstein

Michael Goldstein is a Professor of Psychology and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow at Cornell University.

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Attend this course for as little as £22 as part of the Voice Professional Training CPD Award Scheme.

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