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Brain Res Rev. 2008 Mar;57(2):299-308. Epub 2007 Apr 27.

Steroid-dependent plasticity of vocal motor systems: novel insights from teleost fish.

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Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Seeley G. Mudd Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Vocal communication is a trait shared by most vertebrates. Non-mammalian model systems have provided exquisite examples of how motor and sensory systems, respectively, produce and encode the physical attributes of acoustic communication signals that play essential roles in mediating the dynamics of social behavior. These same models, mainly developed for a few species of fish, amphibians and birds, have proven to be equally important for demonstrating how steroids and other hormones shape the neural mechanisms of vocal communication. This review mainly considers recent studies in teleost fish demonstrating the role of steroids in the rapid modulation of the firing properties of a central pattern generator for vocalization. Thus, steroids, like other classes of neurochemicals, can play an instrumental role in reshaping the neurophysiological coding of motor patterning, in this case for social signaling behavior.

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