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  • Friday, March 11, 2016
  • 1:30 PM–2:30 PM
  • Science Building 010

Interview candidate presentation related to his/her research interests.

Benjamin Pawlisch, Ph.D., Madison College
Neural Mechanisms of Hearing and Responding to Song

Description: During vocal communication, social information is being encoded in the brain of the receiver. Therefore, the social relevance of an auditory signal may drastically alter behavior of the receiver. Songbirds have been used to understand the neural mechanisms of vocal communication because they learn their songs in a process similar to how humans learn language and because a lot is known about the neural circuitry controlling the production of song, the learning of song, and even the processing of song. However, less is known about the neural mechanisms behind how social information is encoded during the processing of auditory information. Furthermore, little is known about how social behavior brain regions, such as the mesolimbic system, which has been implicated in reward and incentive salience, and the regions of the hypothalamus, which are also implicated in social behavior, are involved in behavioral responses to auditory information. During my dissertation and postdoctoral research, I addressed these questions, using a variety of techniques, including immunocytochemistry, pharmacology, and electrophysiology. I found that song types of differing social relevance are encoded differently in auditory processing regions of the songbird brain, and I also found specific social behavior brain regions and specific neurotransmitters that are involved in behavioral responses to song. Answers to these questions allow us a greater insight into how the human brain processes auditory information as well as social information and how this information alters our behavior during daily conversations and interactions.

The public is welcome and light snacks will be available before the talk begins.

March 2016
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