Daniel Yasumasa Takahashi - Young Scientist Award

Daniel Yasumasa TakahashiDr. Daniel Yasumasa Takahashi obtained his PhD in Bioinformatics from the University of São Paulo in 2009. He is currently an associate research scholar at Princeton University, Department of Neuroscience, and was recently hired by the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte. He

Dr. Takahashi is internationally recognized for his interdisciplinary work in the area of primate vocal communication. He studies the evolutionary, ontological, and neurobiological bases of the emergence of vocal communication. Dr. Takahashi conducted the first experimental demonstration that non-human primates also present vocal learning. The impact of this finding is reflected in prominent publications in Science (Takahashi et al., 2015), Current Biology (Takahashi et al., 2017, Takahashi et al., 2013) and eLife (Teramoto et al.), and appeard in the coverof Science and Current Biology. His work has also been prominent in the world media (BBC News, National Geographic News Watch, Daily Mail UK, Decoded Science, The Independent, Wired, io9, Science, Nature, National Public Radio, Deutschlandfunk, Science News, Journal of FAPESP , Estadão). Dr. Takahashi has been constantly invited to give lectures at international conferences with more than 30 guest lectures on his curriculum. He currently has 47 articles published in international journals, with an H-index of 24 and more than two thousand citations

This scientific recognition dates back to his doctoral thesis, obtained under the supervision of Koichi Sameshima (Faculty of Medicine of USP) and Luiz Antonio Baccalá (Polytechnic School of USP). Thanks to his thesis and publications focused on measures of information flow in neuroscience, he received the prestigious and highly-competed Pew Latin American Fellowship to undertake a postdoctoral in the United States in the laboratory of Prof. Asif Ghazanfar.

The great differential in his work is the constant use of mathematically rigorous quantitative analysis with biological questions of relevance, generating truly interdisciplinary works.

Further information can be gathered on his personal web page.

The shape of vocal development

Vocal development is the adaptive coordination of the vocal apparatus, muscles, the nervous system, and social interaction. Therefore, understanding how vocal behavior changes across development requires a system-level understanding of the interaction between all the elements of the vocal system. Yet, there is no theoretical or computational framework in which to understand how the components of vocal systems come to assemble themselves during development. In this talk, I will introduce three system-level models that helped us to understand the vocal development process. I will use developmental data from marmoset monkeys to illustrate the validity of our models. Firstly, I will explain how marmosets vocally interact with each other using turn-taking. I will show that marmoset turn-taking follows a coupled oscillator dynamics that can be modeled by a stochastic differential equation. The equations simulate the activity of different brain areas. Changes in the strength of the interaction between these brain areas explain the developmental changes in marmoset turn-taking.  Secondly, I will discuss how we can incorporate changes in vocal apparatus, muscles, the nervous system, and social interaction in a single framework using a quantitative version of the Waddington's landscape. Finally, I will show that we can make precise predictions of the vocal development trajectories by understanding the biological constraints of the developmental landscape.