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Front Neuroendocrinol. 2011 Aug;32(3):353-66. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2010.12.006. Epub 2010 Dec 28.

A neuroendocrine basis for the hierarchical control of frog courtship vocalizations.

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University of Utah, Department of Biology, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.


Seasonal courtship signals, such as mating calls, are orchestrated by steroid hormones. Sex differences are also sculpted by hormones, typically during brief sensitive periods. The influential organizational-activational hypothesis [50] established the notion of a strong distinction between long-lasting (developmental) and cyclical (adult) effects. While the dichotomy is not always strict [1], experimental paradigms based on this hypothesis have indeed revealed long-lasting hormone actions during development and more transient anatomical, physiological and behavioral effects of hormonal variation in adulthood. Sites of action during both time periods include forebrain and midbrain sensorimotor integration centers, hindbrain and spinal cord motor centers, and muscles. African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) courtship vocalizations follow the basic organization-activation pattern of hormone-dependence with some exceptions, including expanded steroid-sensitive periods. Two highly-tractable preparations-the isolated larynx and the fictively calling brain-make this model system powerful for dissecting the hierarchical action of hormones. We discuss steroid effects from larynx to forebrain, and introduce new directions of inquiry for which Xenopus vocalizations are especially well-suited.

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