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J Neurophysiol. 2005 Apr;93(4):1871-9. Epub 2004 Nov 17.

Properties of dopamine release and uptake in the songbird basal ganglia.

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  • 1Graduate Program in Neurobiology and Behavior, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Vocal learning in songbirds requires a basal ganglia circuit termed the anterior forebrain pathway (AFP). The AFP is not required for song production, and its role in song learning is not well understood. Like the mammalian striatum, the striatal component of the AFP, Area X, receives dense dopaminergic innervation from the midbrain. Since dopamine (DA) clearly plays a crucial role in basal ganglia-mediated motor control and learning in mammals, it seems likely that DA signaling contributes importantly to the functions of Area X as well. In this study, we used voltammetric methods to detect subsecond changes in extracellular DA concentration to gain better understanding of the properties and regulation of DA release and uptake in Area X. We electrically stimulated Ca(2+)- and action potential-dependent release of an electroactive substance in Area X brain slices and identified the substance as DA by the voltammetric waveform, electrode selectivity, and neurochemical and pharmacological evidence. As in the mammalian striatum, DA release in Area X is depressed by autoinhibition, and the lifetime of extracellular DA is strongly constrained by monoamine transporters. These results add to the known physiological similarities of the mammalian and songbird striatum and support further use of voltammetry in songbirds to investigate the role of basal ganglia DA in motor learning.

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