Developmental origin and identity of song system neurons born during vocal learning in songbirds

J Comp Neurol. 2007 May 10;502(2):202-14. doi: 10.1002/cne.21296.


New neurons are added to the forebrain song control regions high vocal center (HVC) and Area X of juvenile songbirds but the identity and site of origin of these cells have not been fully characterized. We used oncoretroviral vectors to genetically label neuronal progenitors in different regions of the zebra finch lateral ventricle. A region corresponding to the mammalian medial and lateral ganglionic eminences generated medium spiny neurons found in Area X and in the striatum surrounding Area X, and at least two classes of interneurons found in HVC. In addition, our experiments indicate that the HVC projection neurons that project into nucleus robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA) are born locally from the ventricular region immediately dorsal to HVC. The ability to genetically target neuron subpopulations that give rise to different song system cell types provides a tool for specific genetic manipulations of these cell types. In addition, our results suggest striking similarities between neurogenesis in the embryonic mammalian brain and in the brain of the juvenile songbird and provide further evidence for the existence of conserved cell types in the forebrain for birds and mammals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cholera Toxin / metabolism
  • Dopamine and cAMP-Regulated Phosphoprotein 32 / metabolism
  • Finches / physiology*
  • Genetic Vectors / physiology
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • High Vocal Center / cytology*
  • High Vocal Center / growth & development*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / metabolism
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Dopamine and cAMP-Regulated Phosphoprotein 32
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • T-Box Domain Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Cholera Toxin