Mathilde Le Covec

PhD student

Supervision Dalila Bovet

Phone : +33 -
Mail :

Laboratoire Éthologie Cognition Développement
École doctorale 139 : Connaissance, Langage, Modélisation
Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense

Funding : contrat doctoral Paris Lumière
Mathilde Le Covec

Research interest

Musical animals: preferences, artistic expression and musical influences on empathy in birds
Arts have often been considered as a human specificity. Yet, studying artistic abilities in animals could allow us to understand the basis and phylogenesis of arts, and most specifically music.
Indeed, according to some hypotheses, there would be a relationship between the ability to imitate and reproduce sounds and musical sensitivity. Yet, only a few species are able of vocal learning, such as of course human beings, but also birds. Moreover, certain parallels are drawn between birdsongs and human music. Others parallels are drawn between music and empathy, which could both have evolved in order to strengthen human bonds.

My researches will be held with three species, all capable of vocal learning: cockatiels, jungle crows and java sparrows. Besides, pittacidaes and corvids are known for having cognitive abilities as high as those of apes.

In that perspective, I will study three main aspects.

Preferences: I will aim to determine whether birds can appreciate to listen to music and if they show preferences for some musical plays compared to others.
Artistic expression: I will analyse birds’ musical expression, that is to say sound productions on instruments, rhythms and dances.
Musical influences on empathy: I will see whether music can have a positive influence, and observe which behaviours (most specifically empathic ones) it can induce.


Dr Nurock, Laboratoire Théories du Politique, Université Paris 8

Pr Watanabe, Centre for Advanced Research on Logic and Sensibility, Keio University, Japan             
University Paris 8Keio University

Previous Research Topics

Master of clinical psychology and psychopathology: influence of drawing in everyday live in Asperger persons
Master 1 of ethology: food sharing in cockatiels
Master 2 of cognitive psychology: emotional contagion in cockatiels

Mis à jour le 19 septembre 2016