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Neural Plast. 2012;2012:902510. doi: 10.1155/2012/902510. Epub 2012 Nov 26.

Effect of vocal nerve section on song and ZENK protein expression in area X in adult male zebra finches.

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Key Laboratory of Ecology and Environmental Science in Higher Education of Guangdong Province, School of Life Science, South China Normal University, Guangdong, Guangzhou 510631, China.


ZENK expression in vocal nuclei is associated with singing behavior. Area X is an important nucleus for learning and stabilizing birdsong. ZENK expression is higher in Area X compared to that in other vocal nuclei when birds are singing. To reveal the relationship between the ZENK expression in Area X and song crystallization, immunohistochemistry was used to detect ZENK protein expression in Area X after the unilateral vocal nerve (tracheosyringeal nerve) section in adult male zebra finches. Sham operations had no effect on song. In contrast, section of unilateral vocal nerve could induce song decrystallization at the 7th day after the surgery. The spectral and the temporal features of birdsong were distorted more significantly in the right-side vocal nerve section than in the left-side vocal nerve section. In addition, after surgery, ZENK expression was higher in the right-side of Area X than in the left-side. These results indicate that the vocal nerve innervations probably are right-side dominant. ZENK expression in both sides of Area X decreased, as compared to control group after surgery, which suggests that the ZENK expression in Area X is related to birdsong crystallization, and that there is cooperation between the Area X in AFP and syrinx nerve.

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