ABOUT AVA

 

ABOUT ME

I completed my masters in Cognitive Science at the École normale supérieure in Paris, and my bachelors degree at New York University. After an initial formation as a cognitive neuroscientist, I became increasingly interested in the systems-level implementation of vocal communication abilities in humans as well as other animals. Since the fall of 2020, I'm a PhD candidate in the AC lab, and affiliated researcher with the Neuroscience Department at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics.
I'm fascinated by the evolution of vocal communication across the animal kingdom, and how the mammalian brain has adapted to support auditory communication in vastly different ecological niches. I'm particularly interested in the neural mechanisms that underlie complex vocal behavior, how these might be preserved between species, and the neurobiology of hierarchical language processing.
I am supported by a PhD scholarship from the Stiftung Polytechnische Gesellschaft (Main-campus-doctus Promotionsstipendium). Outside the lab, I enjoy rock climbing, reading, and playing the violin.

 

ABOUT MY PROJECT

Vocal communication is ubiquitous in the mammalian kingdom and astounding in its richness and diversity. I'm interested in the potential of a comparative, cross-species for illuminating how fundamental properties of vocal production and processing have evolved.
In my PhD, I will investigate the temporal dynamics and the neural basis of social calling in bats, with a particular focus on how neural oscillations coordinate vocal behavior. In a set of three studies, I aim to (1) investigate the plasticity of vocal production timing and vocal turn-taking in social contexts; (2) test a neural network model of predictive timing in vocal control using electrophysiology; and finally (3) stimulate and perturb the vocal output system, using stimulation and pharmacological deactivation, to probe the causal role of frontal structures (FAF) and oscillatory mechanisms in generating properly-timed calls.

 

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

coming soon ...

 

©2020 by Julio Hechavarria.