Lesions of a telencephalic nucleus in male zebra finches: Influences on vocal behavior in juveniles and adults

J Neurobiol. 2001 Feb 5;46(2):142-65. doi: 10.1002/1097-4695(20010205)46:2<142::aid-neu60>3.0.co;2-r.


Male zebra finches learn to sing during a restricted phase of juvenile development. Song learning is characterized by the progressive modification of unstable song vocalizations by juvenile birds during development, a process that leads to the production of stereotyped vocal patterns as birds reach adulthood. The medial magnocellular nucleus of the anterior neostriatum (mMAN) is a small cortical region that has been implicated in song behavior based on its neuronal projection to the High Vocal Center (HVC), a nucleus that is critical for adult vocal production and presumably also plays a role in song learning. To assess the function of mMAN in song, ibotenic acid lesions of this brain region were made in juvenile male zebra finches during the period of vocal learning (40-50 days of age) and in adult males that were producing stable song (>90 days of age). Birds lesioned as juveniles produced highly abnormal, poor quality song as adults. Although the overall song quality of birds lesioned as adults was not highly disrupted or abnormal, the postoperative song behavior of these birds was discernibly different due to slight increases in variability of vocal production, particularly at the onset of singing. These results demonstrate that mMAN plays some important role in vocal production during the sensitive period for song learning, and is also important for consistent initiation and stereotyped production of adult song behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Denervation / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / growth & development
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Nuclear Family
  • Songbirds / anatomy & histology*
  • Songbirds / physiology*
  • Telencephalon / cytology*
  • Telencephalon / growth & development
  • Telencephalon / physiology*
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*