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Neuron. 1998 Oct;21(4):775-88.

For whom the bird sings: context-dependent gene expression.

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Laboratory of Animal Behavior, The Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Male zebra finches display two song behaviors: directed and undirected singing. The two differ little in the vocalizations produced but greatly in how song is delivered. "Directed" song is usually accompanied by a courtship dance and is addressed almost exclusively to females. "Undirected" song is not accompanied by the dance and is produced when the male is in the presence of other males, alone, or outside a nest occupied by its mate. Here, we show that the anterior forebrain vocal pathway contains medial and lateral "cortical-basal ganglia" subdivisions that have differential ZENK gene activation depending on whether the bird sings female-directed or undirected song. Differences also occur in the vocal output nucleus, RA. Thus, although these two vocal behaviors are very similar, their brain activation patterns are dramatically different.

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