≪Organizer Abstract≫
Vocal learning is a sensory-motor learning between auditory memory and vocal output. By vocal learning, animals acquire new repertoire of vocal signals. Learned signals are used in social and sexual communication. Vocal learning is a rare trait. Some species of whales, birds, bats, and only one species of primates which is the human, exhibit vocal learning. Specialized sensory-motor pathways are well identified in birds and humans, but not in other classes of animals. In this symposium, we compare vocal learning and vocal plasticity among birds, humans, and marmosets to obtain insights in the evolution of vocal learning. Our discussion will include deep homology (genes and circuits) and independent, parallel evolution of vocal learning among taxa, as well as behavoral phenotypes of vocal learning. Our ultimate goal is to reach a hypothesis that explains the emergence of speech in humans.
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