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Carel ten Cate

WP 5 Language evolution and diversity

Carel ten Cate is professor of Animal Behavior at Leiden University and Scientific Director of the Institute of Biology at Leiden.

His research concentrates on the cognitive abilities of birds. A main line of research concerns exploring what the songbird model has to offer as a comparative model for human language. Learned birdsong is considered the closest animal analogue to human language and several projects address how the acquisition, rule learning and other cognitive abilities of birds, as well as the mechanisms underlying production and perception of song, compare to those involved in human language and speech.

The behaviour of animals, and also their ‘linguistic abilities’ always have a large appeal to a broad audience. Carel ten Cate frequently gives public lectures on the subject and is regularly interviewed or consulted by journalists on the topic.

His contribution to LiI (WP 5) concerns the addition of comparative research using songbirds. Such research aims to show to what extent the crucial mechanisms involved in speech and language are specific to these processes or are shared between distinct vocal-learning species.

You can find his personal website here.