Research Services

Operant Behavior

I have designed and programmed operant behavioral testing equipment for several laboratories. Currently many of these applications have been in bird song learning laboratories studying the following: preference for birds own song over heterospecific songs in zebra finch; female preference between high performance or low performance songs that are either familiar or novel; preference for high or low performance song in chipping sparrows; song descrimination in brood parasites and hosts and pilot studies with Brazilian grasquits.

While software can be customized to work with a variety of hardware, I have worked mostly with phidgets components. These are affordable components that require a minimal amount of assembly or construction. A single operant box for a typical task may have hardware costs as low as $20–$50 with each additional box being only a portion of that cost. More recently I've been developing systems based on the Raspberry Pi single board computer which allows for much greater flexibility and ease of coding. Other hardware options are available and can be discussed based on your specific needs.

The software for these tasks is often fairly task-specific. An example of a two choice operant task that has been used to assess preference in several song bird species can be seen on my software page. If this suits your needs you are free to use it as is, or free to modify the source code as needed. Alternately you can contact me to contract for modifications to the code.

I am also versed in writing scripts or programs for the operant equipment from the major suppliers in the industry. While I would not recommend buying any of this hardware, I am able to help program and troubleshoot your existing equipment.


Much of my graduate career was spent around song bird researchers working on bioacoustics. While I have gained some familiarity with the ecological relevance of acoustic signals — particularly in songbirds — I have delved much deeper into the computational aspects of processing and analyzing bioacoustic signals. I have written software for quantifying aspects of time series data using Fourier anlysis

One such tool to calculate the frequency excursion of a audio signal is freely availble from my github page. Frequency excursion has been proposed as a new method of quantifying performance in songbirds. This method is described in detail in a publication in the journal Animal Behavior.

Reaction Time Tasks

I have also developed a software package that can be used on any standard computer — or even just boot and run from a flash drive — and can be used to conduct a variety of serial reaction time tasks for human subjects. This setup is currently in use for an active research project.