CBMM Brains, Minds, and Machines Seminar Series: Building a temporal state space for song learning

Photo of Prof. Michale Fee, MIT BCS December 7, 2021 - 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Prof. Michale Fee, Department Head & Dorflinger Professor, Dept. Brain and Cognitive Sciences; Investigator, McGovern Institute for Brain Research; MIT


The Fall 2021 Brains, Minds, and Machines (BMM) Seminar Series will be hosted in a hybrid format. Please see the information included below regarding attending the event either in-person or remotely via Zoom connection

Please note, MIT is requiring that all attendees, including MIT COVIDpass users, sign-in to the event prior to entering the auditorium.

Abstract:  Songbird vocalizations are produced by a sparse sequence of spike bursts in a motor circuit that controls the vocal output on a fast (10ms) timescale. This sparse sequence is also transmitted to song learning circuits, presumably to control the temporal specificity of vocal learning, a process thought to proceed by mechanisms similar to reinforcement learning (RL). Electrophysiological recordings in young birds have revealed that such sequences do not exist at the earliest stages of learning, and emerge only gradually during song acquisition. How does this sparse temporal basis, or state space, emerge during development?  Songbirds learn their vocalizations by imitating the song of an adult bird, suggesting that the auditory memory of the tutor song may play a role in setting up sequences in the motor system, creating a state space custom built for a given tutor song.  I will describe a model for how temporal sequences to support RL of this complex behavioral pattern may be constructed in the brain, and will propose a hypothesis for how the auditory system could shape these sequences to align with a memory of the tutor song, thus facilitating song evaluation.​

Link to attend talk remotely via Zoom:

Zoom link: https://mit.zoom.us/j/93976178761?pwd=TFVPV2ZTNGk0K1hxYVNUTWFJSngyUT09


Guidance for attending in-person:

MIT attendees:
MIT attendees will need to be registered via the MIT COVIDpass system to have access to MIT Building 46.
Please visit URL https://covidpass.mit.edu/ for more information regarding MIT COVIDpass.

Non-MIT attendees:

MIT is currently welcoming visitors to attend talks in person. All visitors to the MIT campus are required to follow MIT COVID19 protocols, see URL https://now.mit.edu/policies/campus-access-and-visitors/.  Specifically, visitors are required to wear a face-covering/mask while indoors and use the new MIT TIM Ticket system for accessing MIT buildings. Per MIT’s event policy, use of the Tim Tickets system is required for all indoor events; for information about this and other current MIT policies, visit MIT Now.

Link to this event's MIT TIM TICKET: https://tim-tickets.atlas-apps.mit.edu/eyYmNNFToY791sQq8

To access MIT Bldg. 46 with a TIM Ticket, please enter the building via the McGovern/Main Street entrance - 524 Main Street (on GPS). This entrance is equipped with a QR reader that can read the TIM Ticket. A map of the location of, and an image of, this entrance is available at URL: https://mcgovern.mit.edu/contact-us/

General TIM Ticket information:

A visitor may use a Tim Ticket to access Bldg. 46 any time between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., M-F

A Tim Ticket is a QR code that serves as a visitor pass. A Tim Ticket, named for MIT’s mascot, Tim the Beaver, is the equivalent of giving someone your key to unlock a building door, without actually giving up your keys.

This system allows MIT to collect basic information about visitors entering MIT buildings while providing MIT hosts a convenient way to invite visitors to safely access our campus.

Information collected by the TIM Ticket:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • COVID-19 vaccination status (i.e., whether fully vaccinated or exempt)
  • Symptom status and wellness information for the day of visit

The Tim Tickets system can be accessed by invited guests through the MIT Tim Tickets mobile application (available for iOS 13+ or Android 7+) or on the web at visitors.mit.edu.

Visitors must acknowledge and agree to terms for campus access, confirm basic contact information, and submit a brief attestation about health and vaccination status. Visitors should complete these steps at least 30 minutes before scanning into an MIT building.

For more information on the TIM Tickets, please visit https://covidapps.mit.edu/visitors#for-access


43 Vassar St., Cambridge MA
December 7, 2021
4:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Singleton Auditorium (46-3002)

MIT Building 46 | Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex, 43 Vassar Street, Cambridge MA 02139