2019-20 Colloquium Series -- Tim Gentner, University of California, San Diego



Timothy Gentner, PhD
Professor and Director of Neuroscience Grad Program
Department of Psychology
University of California, San Diego

“Natural Acoustic Communication Signals
and their Neural Representation ”

Acoustic communication encompasses a wide range of sensory, perceptual, and cognitive behaviors. As such, communication signals provide attractive targets for studying the neural mechanisms of real-world auditory processing, cognition, and motor control. But natural signals can be difficult to work with. Their spectral and temporal complexity is hard to quantify, parameterize, and model; and their high-dimensional structure challenges many classical notions of neural encoding. I will discuss research from my lab that addresses these challenges. I will describe a suite of unsupervised machine learning techniques that permit direct measurement, parameterization, and generative control over the spectro-temporal structure of arbitrarily complex vocal signals. I will then discuss experiments in European starlings, a songbird species, that apply these techniques and reveal a low-dimensional perceptual and neural representation space for vocal communication signals that is shared between individuals. I will then introduce a novel topology-based measure for understanding invariant representations in large neural populations and show that seemingly random neural population activity patterns can carry unique information about learned equivalences among different stimuli.

Monday, November 18, 2019
3:30 p.m.
Gilmer 190

Coffee/cookies at 3:15pm.
Reception will be held after the talk.

Time and Location: 
3:30pm, Gilmer 190
Monday, November 18, 2019
"Natural Acoustic Communication Signals and their Neural Representation"