Science Faculty Spotlight: Dina Lipkind

November 29, 2021

Headshot: Dina Lipkind

Dr. Dina Lipkind is an Assistant Professor of Biology at York College, CUNY, and a member of the Cognitive and Comparative Psychology, and Cognitive Neuroscience graduate programs at the CUNY Graduate center. Research in Dr. Lipkind’s lab focuses on identifying the strategies that have evolved across species for the efficient leaning of skilled behaviors, focusing on learned vocalizations. One line of research studies song learning in zebra finches, an Australian songbird species. Young zebra finch males learn their courtship song by listening to their father’s singing, and gradually matching their own singing to resemble it (a developmental process that requires a prolonged period of practice). We combine experimental methods for controlling and manipulating song learning with artificial stimuli, and computational tools for analyzing continuously recorded vocal output, to tease apart the components of this process. A parallel line of research focuses on translating the insights and methodology from birdsong studies to understand how humans acquire the pronunciation of a new language. Research in the Lipkind Lab is currently funded by an NIH (NINDS) R01 collaborative grant.

Potential research questions for study include:

  • How do birds evaluate and correct their own performance when learning a new song?
  • How does song learning affect social interactions within a group?
  • How do human adults acquire the set of speech sounds of a new language?

Areas of expertise: Animal behavior, vocal learning, neuroethology

Education: Ph.D., Tel Aviv University (Zoology)

Selected publications:

  • Lipkind D., Geambasu, A. & Levelt C.C. (2019). The development of structured vocalizations in songbirds and humans: a comparative analysis. Top Cogn Sci doi:10.1111/tops.12414.
  • Lipkind D., Zai A.T., Hanuschkin A., Marcus G.F., Tchernichovski O. & Hahnloser R.H.R. (2017). Songbirds work around computational complexity by learning song vocabulary independently of sequence. Nat Commun 8:1247.
  • Vallentin D., Kosche G., Lipkind D. & Long M.A. (2016). Inhibition protects acquired song segments during vocal learning in zebra finches. Science 351(6270):267-271.
  • Lipkind D., Marcus G.F., Bemis D., Sasahara K., Jacoby N., Takahashi M., Suzuki K., Feher O., Ravbar P., Okanoya K. & Tchernichovski O. (2013). Stepwise Acquisition of vocal combinatorial capacity in songbirds and human infants. Nature 498(7452):104-108.
  • Ravbar P., Lipkind D., Parra L.C. & Tchernichovski O. (2012). Vocal exploration is locally regulated during song learning. J Neurosci 32(10):3422-3432.
  • Lipkind D. & Tchernichovski O.  (2011). Quantification of developmental birdsong learning from the subsyllabic scale to cultural evolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 108 Suppl 3:15572-15579.