Vocal communication signals are critical in social interactions across many species. Receivers can extract information from vocal signals to use in social decisions, including mate choice. My lab is interested in the degree to which an individual receiver’s experience, in particular auditory and social experience, shape auditory perception and preference. We study this in a small, gregarious songbird species, the zebra finch, in which females use songs to recognize individuals and select mates. The ability of female finches to extract and use information from song is a critical feature of songbird communication, and its study can elucidate how auditory and social experiences are translated into changes in brain and behavior.
1996 BSc, Duke University
2002 PhD, University of Texas (Austin)
2003-2010 University of California, San Francisco Postdoctoral research
2010- McGill University, Associate professor in the Department of Biology.
Barr H, Wall E, and Woolley SC. Dopamine in the songbird auditory cortex shapes auditory preference. BioRxiv https://doi.org/10.1101/761783.
Woolley SC. 2019. Dopaminergic regulation of vocal-motor plasticity and performance. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 54, 127-133.
Barr H and Woolley SC. 2018. Developmental auditory experience shapes responses of catecholaminergic neurons to socially modulated song. Scientific Reports 8(1)11717.
Van Ruijssevelt L, Chen Y, von Eugen K, Hamaie J, De Groof G, Verhoye M, Güntürkün O, Woolley SC#, and Van der Linden A#. 2018. fMRI reveals a novel region for evaluating acoustic information for mate choice in a female songbird. Current Biology 28: 711-721.e6 # co-corresponding and co-last author
Chen Y, Clark O and Woolley SC. 2017. Courtship song preferences in female zebra finches are shaped by developmental auditory experience. Proc. R. Soc. B 284: 20170054.
Woolley SC. 2016. Social context differentially modulates activity of two interneuron populations in an avian basal ganglia nucleus. J. Neurophysiology 116(6):2831-2840.
Schubloom HE and Woolley SC. 2016. Variation in social relationships relates to song preferences and EGR1 expression in a female songbird. Developmental Neurobiology 76:1029-1040.
Woolley SC, Rajan R, Joshua M and Doupe AJ. 2014. Emergence of context-dependent variability across a basal ganglia network. Neuron 82:208-223.
Woolley SC and Doupe AJ. 2008. Social context-induced song variation affects female behavior and gene expression. PLoS Biology 6:e62.
Woolley SC and Crews D. 2004. Species differences in the regulation of tyrosine hydroxylase in Cnemidophorus whiptail lizards. Journal of Neurobiology 60(3):360-368.
Woolley SC, Sakata JT, and Crews D. 2004. Tyrosine hydroxylase expression is affected by sexual vigor and social environment in male Cnemidophorus inornatus. Journal of Comparative Neurology 476(4):429-439.
Woolley SC, Sakata J, Gupta A, and Crews D. 2001. Evolutionary changes in dopaminergic modulation of courtship behavior in Cnemidophorus whiptail lizards.