Voice control – Live. Learn. Evolve…

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Coen Elemans




University of Southern Denmark


DKK 9,996,000




Semper Ardens: Accomplish


Voice is critical to communication and survival for birds and mammals since millions of years. In humans, the voice was the foundation for our unique cultural evolution. However we know little on the control mechanisms governing the animal and human voice. The aim of this project is to quantify how brain and body interact to control the voice over different timescales across the animal kingdom.


Experimental difficulties prevent thorough investigation of voice control, speech learning and associated diseases that is essential to improve interventions to compensate for speech pathologies. And in a world increasingly filled with human noise, we want to understand how, and if, animals can adapt their voice to changing natural soundscapes, to make mitigation rules for nature conservation.


This project combines new experimental techniques with next generation computer simulations and cutting-edge AI to unravel how brain and body control voice over neural, developmental, and evolutionary timescales. We will study songbirds as the best animal model for speech learning, but will also look across all vocalizing vertebrates to discover fundamental rules underlying voice control.

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