If you'd like to look at / listen to a lot of zebra finch songs, here's a Zebra Finch Song Archive.
These are some of the major strands in the lab's thinking about bird songs and the brains that produce them:Song organizationReversibility of song crystallization
Male zebra finches learn their songs in chunks, segments of approximately 3 syllables extracted from one or more adults' songs and rearranged to form a new song. Such chunks have both sensory (during acquisition of a model) and motor (as sung during production) aspects. Can we find brain representations of chunks? Of their ordering?Laterality
Zebra finches are "closed-ended" learners, completing song learning at sexual maturity, which occurs 90 days after hatching. By interfering with the mechanics of song production, we can induce adult males to alter their songs in a way that is similar song development learning process. What conditions and what neural circuits are necessary for rejuvenating the brain?Sexual dimorphism in song perception.
Song, like speech, is lateralized, but in birds the non-dominant side contributes to the production of portions of the song. Birds do not have a corpus callosum to help coordinate activity in the two sides. How are interactions between the two hemispheres coordinated?Cultural transmission of song
Female zebra finches do not sing, and lack components of the males' brain circuits for song. Is this dimorphism reflected in the way that males and females process and perceive the songs they hear?
House finches have recently colonized much of the Eastern U.S. Within a few years after they take up residence, populations appear to form locally stable song dialects, despite yearly incursions of males from other areas. How do song dialects change over time?