About me

My name is Tim Sainburg, and I am a PhD student in the Psychology program and Anthropogeny program at UCSD in Tim Gentner's auditory neurophysiology laboratory.

My research is focused on how our brains process, organize, and produce complex sequential and temporally organized behaviors. In Tim's lab, I primarily use the song of the European starling as a model for studing the sequential organization of behavior. My research projects tend to use some combination of:

  • Spectrographic analyses of wild or laboratory animals
  • Machine learning and deep learning of acoustic signals
  • Multicellular electrophysiology and analysis
  • Operant conditioning / designing behavioral paradigms
Figure 1: A sample of song from a single male European starling.

Ongoing Projects

Machine learning for birdsong acoustic spaces

In out lab, we have been using autoencoders and GANs to generate stimuli for psychophysical and electrophysiological experiments with songbirds (Thielk et al., 2017; Sainburg et al., 2018 in press; Zuidema et al., 2018 in press). For example, we might record a dataset of songbird vocalizations, segment those vocalizations into syllables, and use an autoencoder to learn a latent representation of those syllables (Figure 2A). We then sample from that $Z$ space (Figure 2B) and invert the sampled spectrograms to generate audio waveforms. Finally, we use a behavioral task (operant conditioning) to get a measure of the bird's perception of the stimuli in as it relates to $Z$ space (Figure 2C).

Figure 2: Latent space (from an autoencoder) of birdsong. (A) A clustered latent space of syllables of Cassin's vireo song (B) Samples generated from the latent space in A. (C) Behavior results of a Same/Different task from a single European starling trained on a similar dataset. (D) Transitions between syllables in several hundred bouts of European starling song (in a latent space similar to A). Figure taken from Zuidema et al., (2018 in press)

Neural representations of category

Description coming soon.

Exploring the sequential organization of birdsong and speech

Description coming soon.

Context and its effects on perception and neural representation.

Description coming soon.