Events / E.A.R.S. Seminar – Maria Loconsole & Julia George

E.A.R.S. Seminar – Maria Loconsole & Julia George

October 24, 2023
1:00 PM - 2:15 PM

online offering

E.A.R.S. (Electronic Auditory Research Seminars) – a monthly auditory seminar series focused on central auditory processing


Maria Loconsole (University of Padova): “Tortoises (Testudo hermanni) spontaneously associate visual and acoustic information”


Crossmodal correspondences refer to a spontaneous tendency to associate information coming from different sensory modalities. For instance, we consider a high-pitch sound as more likely to come from a small object and a low-pitch sound as more likely to come from a larger one, namely, a pitch-size correspondence. Examples of crossmodal associations have been reported in several mammalian species, including chimpanzees, rhesus monkeys, and domestic dogs. It has been hypothesised that this mechanism may haveevolved to answer specific environmental needs common to different clades. Thus, evidence form a reptile, the tortoise (Testudo hermanni), is crucial for a better evolutionary understanding of crossmodal associations. In this talk I will discuss a recent study in which tortoises could enter one of two possible flapping doors, each signalled by either a large or a small circle, to obtain a food reward. Subjects preferentially entered the door with the smaller circle when hearing a high-pitched background sound, and that with the larger circle when hearing a low-pitched background sound. These results contribute evidence of a spontaneous association in a reptile, which is well in line with previous literature on mammalian species. This is a crucial step for enabling a deeper understanding of the evolutionary origin of crossmodal correspondences, highlighting the existence of widespread perceptual associative mechanisms common to different clades.



Julia George (Clemson University):”What the egg hears: how acoustic signals reprogram zebra finch development”


The zebra finch is a small songbird native to Australia and New Zealand, where climate is variable and sometimes extreme. When nesting parents experience hot weather, they produce a “heat call” while incubating their eggs. The sound of the heat call has been shown to trigger a lasting change in physiology and development: hatchlings that were exposed in the egg to heat calls grow more slowly in response to warm temperature, and are better adapted to a warmer environment than unexposed controls. My lab is working to identify changes in gene expression in response to heat call exposure, to understand the genomic basis of this developmental reprogramming.



This will be a virtual seminar. For the Zoom link, please email: