Research in my lab focuses on the general question of how experience acts on the nervous system to shape behavior.
We use Bengalese finches as a model organism to study how the brain learns and executes complex and variable vocal behaviors.

Our goal is to account for learning by understanding the sensory stimuli that drive change, how and where those stimuli are represented in patterns of neural activity, and how those patterns act to modify behavior.  We hope both to reveal general learning mechanisms, and to understand how variations in those mechanisms give rise to individual differences in behavior.  Hence, we are interested in how the nervous system changes over the course of development to give rise to 'critical periods' for learning and how innate variations between individuals interact with experience to give rise to differences in learned behaviors. 

Once learned, the vocal behaviors of songbirds still provide a complex and interesting problem for the brain to solve: How should neural activity be coordinated across brain regions to drive successful behavior, how should vocalizations be coordinated with other important behaviors such as breathing, and how should these vocal behaviors be modified based on social context?

Towards this end, we employ a variety of behavioral, neurophysiological, and genetic approaches to investigate vocal learning and vocal production in songbirds.