Past Event

Singing in the Brain: How Early Experience Tunes the Brain for Social Communication - Sarah Woolley

February 6, 2020
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
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Columbia University, Graduate School of Journalism, Lecture Hall, 2950 Broadway, New York, NY 10027


The young brain learning to communicate with hearing and voice builds auditory and vocal motor circuits that are functionally coupled to perceive and produce particular sounds. Sarah Woolley has helped decode how the brain interprets vocalizations and what happens during development when those sounds are disrupted. Her research could shed important light on developmental disorders associated with speech and communication. In this conversation, Dr. Woolley will discuss progress using songbirds to understand how early social experience tunes the auditory system for vocal communication.


Sarah Woolley
Professor of Psychology; Principal Investigator, Zuckerman Institute

Sarah Woolley is a professor and former chair in the Department of Psychology. She directs the Communication Neuroscience Laboratory at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute and is a member of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science. Dr. Woolley’s research on the neuroscience of social communication focuses on songbirds to decipher the neural and behavioral mechanisms of vocal learning and communication. Songbirds share with humans the extremely rare capacity to learn communication vocalizations from adult tutors during development. They serve as the principal animal model for understanding how the brain uses early experiences to develop vocal behaviors and auditory perceptual skills for social communication.


Amy Norovich
Postdoctoral Fellow, Bendesky Lab, Zuckerman Institute

Please register by January 29, 2020Registration is required; seating is first-come-first-served. This event will also be live-streamed.

This talk is part of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Brain Insight Lecture series, offered free to the public to enhance understanding of the biology of the mind and the complexity of human behavior. The lectures are hosted by Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute and supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.