In songbirds, nucleus HVc plays a key role in the generation of the syllable sequences that make up a song. Auditory responses of neurons in HVc are selective for single syllables and for combinations of syllables occurring in temporal sequences corresponding to those in the bird's own song. We present a model of HVc that produces syllable- and temporal-combination-selective responses on the basis of input from recorded bird songs filtered through spectral temporal receptive fields similar to those measured in field L, a primary auditory area. Normalization of the field L outputs, similar to that proposed in models of visual processing, plays an important role in the generation of syllable-selective responses in the model. For temporal-combination-selective responses, N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) conductances provide a memory that allows inhibitory neurons to gate responses to a final syllable in a sequence on the basis of responses to earlier syllables. When the same network that produces temporal-combination-selective responses is excited by a nonspecific timing signal, it generates a similar pattern of output as it does in response to auditory song input. Thus the same model network can perform both sensory and motor functions.
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