Context-dependent song amplitude control in Bengalese finches

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Estrildid finches have two song types: directed (courtship) and undirected (solo). These are acoustically identical and differ only in social context. Recent studies have shown that undirected singing is accompanied by strong activation of the basal ganglia pathway, whereas directed singing is not, which suggests a different degree of feedback control between the two. We examined whether the magnitude of the Lombard effect, i.e., vocal amplitude regulation in response to environmental noise, differed based on the song context. Our results indicate that Bengalese finches change the amplitude of undirected song based on background noise levels, but do not do so for directed song. This is the first behavioral evidence suggesting that feedback control of song output vary by social context.

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