Perception and Neural Representation of Auditory Restoration in the Songbird

Author: ORCID icon
Bjoring, Margaret, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Meliza, Daniel, AS-Psychology, University of Virginia

It is well established that the human auditory system is capable of filling in missing pieces of a speech stream through a process known as phonemic restoration, yet a neural understanding of this phenomenon has been limited by the lack of a suitable animal model. Songbirds, and especially zebra finches, have proven to be a fruitful model for speech perception and production, making them a promising model for studying restoration of complex vocalizations. In this work, I established through behavioral testing that zebra finches experience this illusion and then recorded single-unit neural data to characterize the neural representation of restored birdsong. Using a decoding method, I was able to identify neural responses consistent with restoration. These responses were widely distributed through the avian auditory cortex but especially strongly represented in the deep auditory pathway. I also found that the evidence for restoration grew stronger over the course of the missing syllable, suggesting the involvement of an internal predictive model that suppresses the incoming auditory signal.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
neuroscience, birdsong, auditory system, phonemic restoration, auditory illusion
Sponsoring Agency:
National Science FoundationNational Institute for Deafness and Other Communication DisordersThe Hartwell FoundationJefferson Scholars Foundation
Issued Date: