Is calling someone a bird brain really an insult?

Dr. Kendra Sewall

January 25, 2020
An interactive session led by Dr. Kendra Sewall

Dr. Kendra Sewall is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech and an affiliate of the School of Neuroscience. She completed her BA at Middlebury College and a PhD in Animal Behavior at UC Davis. She then completed postdoctoral work in behavioral neuroendocrinology as an NIH fellow first at UNC Chapel Hill and then at Duke University. Her prior and ongoing work examines how early life experiences shape learning, communication, and social behavior, by impacting underlying brain processes, using songbirds as model systems.

Animals are part of our daily lives – they can be companions, servants, and resources. But do animals think the same way we do? Do they learn and remember the same things? In this talk we will consider what humans and animals have in common and how studying animals ranging from sea slugs to chimpanzees helps us understand how learning and memory work in all creatures, even humans. In particular, we will discover some of the amazing and specialized learning abilities of birds. Finally, we will talk about how studying animal cognition may let us help the animals themselves by improving zoos and conservation efforts.