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PLoS One. 2017 Jun 15;12(6):e0169568. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169568. eCollection 2017.

Rhythmic syllable-related activity in a songbird motor thalamic nucleus necessary for learned vocalizations.

Author information

1
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, United States of America.

Abstract

Birdsong is a complex behavior that exhibits hierarchical organization. While the representation of singing behavior and its hierarchical organization has been studied in some detail in avian cortical premotor circuits, our understanding of the role of the thalamus in adult birdsong is incomplete. Using a combination of behavioral and electrophysiological studies, we seek to expand on earlier work showing that the thalamic nucleus Uvaeformis (Uva) is necessary for the production of stereotyped, adult song in zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). We confirm that complete bilateral lesions of Uva abolish singing in the 'directed' social context, but find that in the 'undirected' social context, such lesions result in highly variable vocalizations similar to early babbling song in juvenile birds. Recordings of neural activity in Uva reveal strong syllable-related modulation, maximally active prior to syllable onsets and minimally active prior to syllable offsets. Furthermore, both song and Uva activity exhibit a pronounced coherent modulation at 10Hz-a pattern observed in downstream premotor areas in adult and, even more prominently, in juvenile birds. These findings are broadly consistent with the idea that Uva is critical in the sequential activation of behavioral modules in HVC.

PMID:
28617829
PMCID:
PMC5472270
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0169568
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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