Jon Sakata

McGill University

Stewart Biology Building
1205 Docteur Penfield
Montreal, Quebec
Canada H3A 1B1

Social interactions have profound influences on what we learn and how we behave. For example, social interactions influence the magnitude and speed of speech learning as well as the structure and organization of speech. Despite the prevalence and importance of such social influences, little is known about the mechanisms by which social signals affect vocal learning and behaviour. My lab uses neurophysiological, immunocytochemical, and molecular tools to reveal how neuronal populations encode social signals and mediate social influences on vocal learning and control in songbirds. My research will provide insight into general principles underlying communication, social behaviour, and cognition as well as potential mechanisms underlying communicative, social, and cognitive disorders such as autism.

Research Themes


Social influences on communication; vocal learning; neurophysiology; neurochemistry; songbird; reinforcement

Recent Publications

Sakata, J.T. and Vehrencamp, S.L. (2012). Integrating perspectives on vocal performance and consistency. The Journal of Experimental Biology. 215, pp. 201-209.

Sakata, J.T., and Brainard, M.S. (2009). Social context rapidly modulates the influence of auditory feedback on avian vocal motor control. Journal of Neurophysiology. 102, pp. 2485-2497.

Hampton, C.M., Sakata, J.T., and Brainard, M.S. (2009). An avian basal ganglia-forebrain circuit contributes differentially to syllable versus sequence variability of adult Bengalese finch song. Journal of Neurophysiology. 101, pp. 3235-3245.

Sakata, J.T., and Brainard, M.S. (2008). Online contributions of auditory feedback to neuronal activity in avian song control circuitry. Journal of Neuroscience. 28, pp. 11378-11390.

Sakata, J.T., Hampton, C.M., and Brainard, M.S. (2008). Social modulation of sequence and syllable variability in adult birdsong. Journal of Neurophysiology. 99, pp. 1700-1711.

Sakata, J.T.., and Brainard, M.S. (2006). Real-time contributions of auditory feedback to avian vocal motor control. Journal of Neuroscience. 26, pp. 9619-9628.

Sakata, J.T., Crews, D, and Gonzalez-Lima, F. (2005). Behavioral correlates of experience-dependent changes in neural metabolism. Brain Research Reviews. 48, pp. 1-15.

Woolley, S.C., Sakata, J.T., and Crews, D. (2004). Evolutionary insights into the regulation of courtship behavior in male amphibians and reptiles. Physiology and Behavior. 83, pp. 347-360.

Sakata, J.T. and Crews, D. (2004). Developmental sculpting of social phenotype and plasticity. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 28, pp. 95-112.

Sakata, J.T. and Crews, D. (2003). Embryonic temperature shapes behavioural plasticity following social experience in male leopard geckos, Eublepharis macularius. Animal Behaviour. 66, pp. 839-846.