3. Preference: How does one animal evaluate the behavior of another?

What are the neural mechanisms of female mate choice?

Zebra finches mate for life. Choosing a male is among the most important decisions a female finch will make but the neural mechanisms of mate selection by females remain poorly understood. Female zebra finches show a preference for more stereotyped (less variable) songs. Indeed, on seeing a female, males immediately switch from undirected (more variable) to female-directed (more stereotyped) song. Evaluating song stereotypy is an extremely complex problem because it requires comparison of specific song acoustic features across multiple renditions, which span seconds to minutes. How can the female do this? Identifying the neural mechanisms of female preference is uniquely addressable in the songbird and is of broad relevance across disciplines.