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Neuron. 2003 Dec 18;40(6):1213-26.

Basal forebrain cholinergic modulation of auditory activity in the zebra finch song system.

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Committee on Neurobiology, University of Chicago, 1027 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


The cholinergic basis of auditory "gating" in the sensorimotor nucleus HVc and its efferent target robustus archistriatalis (RA) was investigated in anesthetized zebra finches. Injections of cholinergic agonists carbachol or muscarine into HVc strongly affected discharge rates and diminished auditory responsiveness in both HVc and its target RA, changes toward an awake-like condition. HVc nicotine injections produced similar strong effects in HVc, but weaker and inconsistent effects in RA. Stimulation of basal forebrain (BF) produced an initial transient network shutdown followed by diminished auditory responsiveness in HVc and RA. All stimulation effects were blocked when preceded by HVc injections of nicotinic or muscarinic antagonists. Thus, BF cholinergic modulation of song system auditory activity acting via functionally distinct HVc circuits can contribute to auditory gating. We hypothesize that wakeful BF activity levels block sensory input to motor systems and adaptively change during behavior to allow sensorimotor feedback such as auditory feedback during singing.

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