Bilateral feedback projections to the forebrain in the premotor network for singing in zebra finches

J Neurobiol. 1998 Jan;34(1):27-40.


A discrete neural circuit mediates the production of learned vocalizations in oscine songbirds. Although this circuit includes some bilateral pathways at midbrain and medullary levels, the forebrain components of the song control network are not directly connected across the midline. There have been no previous reports of bilateral projections from medullary and midbrain vocal control nuclei back to the forebrain song system, but the existence of such bilateral corollary discharge pathways was strongly suggested by the recent observation that unilateral stimulation of a forebrain song nucleus during singing leads to a rapid readjustment of premotor activity in the contralateral forebrain. In the present study, we used neuroanatomical tracers to demonstrate bilateral projections from (a) the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVL), which may control respiratory aspects of vocalization, to nucleus uvaeformis (Uva), and (b) the dorsomedial intercollicular nucleus (DM), a midbrain vocal control region, to Uva. Both RVL and DM receive descending projections from the forebrain song nucleus robustus archistriatalis, and Uva projects directly to the forebrain song nuclei interfacialis and high vocal center. We suggest that the bilateral feedback projections from DM and RVL to Uva function to coordinate the two hemispheres during singing in adult songbirds and to convey internal feedback of premotor signals to the forebrain in young birds that are learning to sing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Feedback
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Hypothalamus, Middle / physiology
  • Injections
  • Iontophoresis
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology
  • Mesencephalon / physiology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Prosencephalon / physiology*
  • Thalamic Nuclei / physiology
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*