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Learning of auditory equivalence classes for vowels by rats.

Abstract : Four male Long-Evans rats were trained to discriminate between synthetic vowel sounds using a GO/NOGO response choice task. The vowels were characterized by an increase in fundamental frequency correlated with an upward shift in formant frequencies. In an initial phase we trained the subjects to discriminate between two vowel categories using two exemplars from each category. In a subsequent phase the ability of the rats to generalize the discrimination between the two categories was tested. To test whether rats might exploit the fact that attributes of training stimuli covaried, we used non-standard stimuli with a reversed relation between fundamental frequency and formants. The overall results demonstrate that rats are able to generalize the discrimination to new instances of the same vowels. We present evidence that the performance of the subjects depended on the relation between fundamental and formant frequencies that they had previously been exposed to. Simple simulation results with artificial neural networks could reproduce most of the behavioral results and support the hypothesis that equivalence classes for vowels are associated with an experience-driven process based on general properties of peripheral auditory coding mixed with elementary learning mechanisms. These results suggest that rats use spectral and temporal cues similarly to humans despite differences in basic auditory capabilities.
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Contributor : Jean-Paul Issartel <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, June 2, 2009 - 2:51:44 PM
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Jan Eriksson, Alessandro Villa. Learning of auditory equivalence classes for vowels by rats.. Behavioural Processes, Elsevier, 2006, 73 (3), pp.348-59. ⟨10.1016/j.beproc.2006.08.005⟩. ⟨inserm-00390616⟩



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