Brenton G. Cooper, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology
TCU Box 298920
Fort Worth, TX 76129 USA
University of Utah, Ph.D. 2000
University of New Mexico, B.S. 1993
(summa cum laude)
I am fascinated by an animal's ability to use experience to guide behavior; as such, my research explores the neural and behavioral mechanisms underlying learning and memory. My current work studies the remarkable ability of songbirds to form an auditory memory of the species typical song as a juvenile, and then to reproduce and maintain the song in adulthood. Vocal learning in songbirds shares many similarities with the acquisition of human speech; therefore, song learning provides an excellent animal model system for understanding the mechanisms of vocal fluency in humans. I am very interested in further exploring the parallels between vocal fluency in songbirds and in children. In particular, I want to develop an animal model of stuttering using songbirds. In addition, I also study the role of sensory feedback, motor control, coordination and learning underlying song production. Songbirds simultaneously produce their song while they are dancing, and I am studying the neural control of visual and vocal motor control. Last, I am interested in the role of social context in modifying the timing of song production, and the role of female interactions in guiding song learning and production. The laboratory utilizes a variety of techniques, including psychophysical studies, electromyography, electrocardiograms, measurements of respiration and air flow during song, and electrophysiological recordings of neurons in anesthetized and awake songbirds. Students working in the laboratory would also have the opportunity to expand on these questions by studying songbirds in the field and developing comparative studies of song learning and acoustic complexity.