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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Aug 16; 91(17): 7849–7853.

The life span of new neurons in a song control nucleus of the adult canary brain depends on time of year when these cells are born.


The number of high vocal center (HVC) neurons labeled in adult male canaries by systemic injections of [3H]thymidine depended on season and survival time. This was true for HVC neurons projecting to the robust nucleus of the archistriatum and for other HVC neurons that could not be retrogradely filled from the robust nucleus of the archistriatum. Birds injected in October and killed 40 days later had twice as many labeled HVC neurons as birds injected in May and killed 40 days later. However, this difference became much larger (5 times) when the birds were allowed to survive for 4 months. Whereas more than half of the spring-born neurons disappeared between 40 days and 4 months, there was no reduction in the number of fall-born neurons present at the 4-month survival point. We infer that seasonal variables affect the life span of HVC neurons born in adulthood.

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