Check out the stylin' headphones on this Bengalese finch

Word, bird. We're totally diggin' those headphones. It's just a shame that they're epoxied directly to your skull, but, on the other hand, you'll never have to worry about them falling off ever again. Just think of it as a premium feature that we'll probably start seeing in headphones for humans.

You'll undoubtedly be surprised to learn that wearing these headphones was not the idea of the finch in the picture. In fact, he likely objected quite strongly, since attaching these things involved sedating him and making a small incision to expose part of his skull. But hey, at least the earphones are nicely padded with foam, so we're sure he can barely even tell that he's wearing them.

You'll also be surprised to learn that these headphones are not some sort of bizarre marketing experiment targeting budgie owners. Rather, they're intended to help researchers figure out how birds auto-tune themselves. By recording the birds singing and then playing back a pitch-shifted version of the song through the headphones in real-time, it's possible to measure how the birds try to compensate when they hear themselves getting out of tune. The result? Interestingly, adult birds tend to ignore big mistakes, instead focusing on fixing small ones, possibly because if the bird hears itself sounding that far off, the bird just assumes that it's due to some environmental factor as opposed to lack of talent.

The researchers are using these experiments to try to create a mathematical model that they say "could help in the development of human behavioral therapies for vocal rehabilitation, as well as increase our general understanding of how the brain learns." You can see some brief video clips of the bird headphones in action at this link, along with how they're put together and, er, attached.

Emory University, via New Scientist

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