Spatial Unmasking of Birdsong in Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata) and Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus)

Micheal L. Dent, Elizabeth M. McClaine, Virginia Best, Erol Ozmeral, Rajiv Narayan, Frederick J. Gallun, Kamal Sen, Barbara G. Shinn-Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Budgerigars and zebra finches were tested, using operant conditioning techniques, on their ability to identify a zebra finch song in the presence of a background masker emitted from either the same or a different location as the signal. Identification thresholds were obtained for three masker types differing in their spectrotemporal characteristics (noise, modulated noise, and a song chorus). Both bird species exhibited similar amounts of spatial unmasking across the three masker types. The amount of unmasking was greater when the masker was played continuously compared to when the target and masker were presented simultaneously. These results suggest that spatial factors are important for birds in the identification of natural signals in noisy environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-367
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • binaural hearing
  • birds
  • cocktail party effect
  • cocktail party problem
  • spatial unmasking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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