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J Neurobiol. 1999 Apr;39(1):14-28.

Changes in adult zebra finch song require a forebrain nucleus that is not necessary for song production.

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Department of Biology, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts 01267, USA.


Male zebra finches normally crystallize song at approximately 90 days and do not show vocal plasticity as adults. However, changes to adult song do occur after unilateral tracheosyringeal (ts) nerve injury, which denervates one side of the vocal organ. We examined the effect of placing bilateral lesions in LMAN (a nucleus required for song development but not for song maintenance in adults) upon the song plasticity that is induced by ts nerve injury in adults. The songs of birds that received bilateral lesions within LMAN followed by right ts nerve injury silenced, on average, 0.25 syllables, and added 0.125 syllables (for an average turnover of 0.375 syllables), and changed neither the frequency with which individual syllables occurred within songs nor the motif types they used most often. In contrast, the songs of birds that received sham lesions followed by ts nerve injury lost, on average, 1.625 syllables, silenced 0.125 syllables, and added 0.75 syllables, turning over an average of 2.5 syllables. They also significantly changed both the frequency with which individual syllables were included in songs and the motif variants used. Thus, song plasticity induced in adult zebra finches with crystallized songs requires the presence of LMAN, a nucleus which had been thought to play a role in vocal production only during song learning. Although the changes to adult songs induced by nerve transection are more limited than those that arise during song development, the same circuitry appears to underlie both types of plasticity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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