A Novel Reinforcement Model of Birdsong Vocalization Learning

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 7 (NIPS 1994)

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Kenji Doya, Terrence J. Sejnowski


Songbirds learn to imitate a tutor song through auditory and motor learn(cid:173) ing. We have developed a theoretical framework for song learning that accounts for response properties of neurons that have been observed in many of the nuclei that are involved in song learning. Specifically, we suggest that the anteriorforebrain pathway, which is not needed for song production in the adult but is essential for song acquisition, provides synaptic perturbations and adaptive evaluations for syllable vocalization learning. A computer model based on reinforcement learning was con(cid:173) structed that could replicate a real zebra finch song with 90% accuracy based on a spectrographic measure. The second generation of the bird(cid:173) song model replicated the tutor song with 96% accuracy.