Aa, J. van der, Honing, H., ten Cate, C. (2015). The perception of regularity in an isochronous stimulus in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) and humans. Behavioural Processes, 115, 37-45. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2015.02.018

Perceiving temporal regularity in an auditory stimulus is considered one of the basic features of musi- cality. Here we examine whether zebra finches can detect regularity in an isochronous stimulus. Using a go/no go paradigm we show that zebra finches are able to distinguish between an isochronous and an irregular stimulus. However, when the tempo of the isochronous stimulus is changed, it is no longer treated as similar to the training stimulus. Training with three isochronous and three irregular stimuli did not result in improvement of the generalization. In contrast, humans, exposed to the same stimuli, readily generalized across tempo changes. Our results suggest that zebra finches distinguish the different stimuli by learning specific local temporal features of each individual stimulus rather than attending to the global structure of the stimuli, i.e., to the temporal regularity.

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