Hvc Lesions Modify Immediate Early Gene Expression In Auditory Forebrain Regions Of Femalesongbirds

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Abstract

It is well established that auditory forebrain regions of oscine birds are essential for the encoding of species-typical songs and are, therefore, vital for recognition of song during sociosexual interactions. Regions such as the caudal medial nidopallium (NCM) and the caudal medial mesopallium (CMM) are involved in perceptual processing of song and the formation of auditory memories. There is an additional telencephalic nucleus, however, that has also been implicated in species recognition. This nucleus is HVC, a prominent nucleus that sits at the apex of the song system, and is well known for its critical role in song learning and song production in male songbirds. Here, we explore the functional relationship between auditory forebrain regions (i.e., NCM and CMM) and HVC in female canaries (Serinus canaria). We lesion HVC and examine immediate early gene responses to conspecific song presentation within CMM and NCM to explore whether HVC can modulate auditory responses within these forebrain regions. Our results reveal robust deficits in ZENK-ir in CMM and NCM of HVC-lesioned females when compared with control- and sham-lesioned females, indicating that functional connections exists between HVC and NCM/CMM. Although these connected regions have been implicated in song learning and production in males, they likely serve distinct functions in female songbirds that face the task of song recognition rather than song production. Identifying functional connections between HVC and auditory regions involved in song perception is an essential step toward developing a comprehensive understanding of the neural basis of song recognition. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Develop Neurobiol, 2013

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