The ability to adapt behavior to different social contexts is mediated by sensitivity to vocal stimuli. Since behavioural flexibility is compromised in neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. autism), it is important to identify early life factors affecting it. Using a virtual reality environment controlled by machine learning, we will identify the vocal stimuli able to enhance behavioural flexibility in the domestic chicks (Gallus gallus). This tractable model is the new frontier for the study of neurodevelopmental disorders, and has a pivotal role in farming. Hence, the implications of this project span from fundamental neuroscience to animal welfare and human-machine interactions.
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