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Behav Neurosci. 2008 Oct;122(5):1148-57. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.122.5.1148.

Noradrenergic neurotoxin, N-(2-chloroethyl)-N-ethyl-2-bromobenzylamine hydrochloride (DSP-4), treatment eliminates estrogenic effects on song responsiveness in female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata).

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  • 1Psychology Department, Hunter College, City University of New York, NY, USA.


Female songbirds use male songs as an important criterion for mate selection. Several studies have reported that female songbirds prefer complex songs to other song types. In a recent study, the authors found that song responsiveness in female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) is strongly modulated by circulating estrogen levels. The behavioral effects of estrogen are often mediated via norepinephrine (NE). The current study administered the noradrenergic neurotoxin, N-(2-chloroethyl)-N-ethyl-2-bromobenzylamine hydrochloride (DSP-4) to estradiol-treated female zebra finches to investigate if estrogenic effects on song responsiveness are mediated via NE. The authors tested song responsiveness of adult female zebra finches for three acoustically different song types--simple, long-bout, and complex--under three treatment conditions, untreated, estradiol-treated, and estradiol + DSP-4-treated. Females only showed differential song responsiveness when treated with estradiol alone, responding more to complex songs. DSP-4 treatment eliminated this differential responsiveness. The results are discussed in the light of evidence from functional, neurochemical, and neuroanatomical studies that suggest that estrogenic effects on song processing might be mediated by NE.

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