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Barbara J Hunnicutt, Bart C Jongbloets, William T Birdsong, Katrina J Gertz, Haining Zhong, Tianyi Mao
The striatum integrates excitatory inputs from the cortex and the thalamus to control diverse functions. Although the striatum is thought to consist of sensorimotor, associative and limbic domains, their precise demarcations and whether additional functional subdivisions exist remain unclear. How striatal inputs are differentially segregated into each domain is also poorly understood. This study presents a comprehensive map of the excitatory inputs to the mouse striatum. The input patterns reveal boundaries between the known striatal domains...
November 28, 2016: ELife
David C Geary
Sexual selection describes the reproductive dynamics that drive the evolution of many sex differences but is rarely used to guide the study of brain development or function. This Mini-Review describes how these dynamics can result in trait elaboration in one sex or the other and why these traits have a heightened sensitivity to stressors. The framework provides a conceptual model that will help to organize what we know about sex differences in brain and cognition, a means to focus the search for additional sex differences, and a means to predict brain systems that are particularly vulnerable to disruption by exposure to stressors...
January 2, 2017: Journal of Neuroscience Research
Caitlin Mencio, Balagurunathan Kuberan, Franz Goller
Neural control of complex vocal behaviors, such as birdsong and speech, requires integration of biomechanical nonlinearities through muscular output. Although control of airflow and tension of vibrating tissues are known functions of vocal muscles, it remains unclear how specific muscle characteristics contribute to specific acoustic parameters. To address this gap, we removed heparan sulfate chains using heparitinases to subtly perturb neuromuscular transmission in the syrinx of adult male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)...
November 16, 2016: Journal of Neurophysiology
Stefania Casagrande, Rianne Pinxten, Erika Zaid, Marcel Eens
Song is a sexually selected trait that is thought to be an honest signal of the health condition of an individual in many bird species. For species that breed opportunistically, the quantity of food may be a determinant of singing activity. However, it is not yet known whether the quality of food plays an important role in this respect. The aim of the present study was to experimentally investigate the role of two calorie-free nutrients (lutein and cholesterol) in determining the expression of a sexually selected behavior (song rate) and other behaviors (locomotor activity, self-maintenance activity, eating and resting) in male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)...
2016: PeerJ
Alexei L Vyssotski, Anna E Stepien, Georg B Keller, Richard H R Hahnloser
What cortical inputs are provided to motor control areas while they drive complex learned behaviors? We study this question in the nucleus interface of the nidopallium (NIf), which is required for normal birdsong production and provides the main source of auditory input to HVC, the driver of adult song. In juvenile and adult zebra finches, we find that spikes in NIf projection neurons precede vocalizations by several tens of milliseconds and are insensitive to distortions of auditory feedback. We identify a local isometry between NIf output and vocalizations: quasi-identical notes produced in different syllables are preceded by highly similar NIf spike patterns...
October 2016: PLoS Biology
Sarah J Alger, Bret R Larget, Lauren V Riters
Complex vocal signals, such as birdsong, contain acoustic elements that differ in both order and duration. These elements may convey socially relevant meaning, both independently and through their interactions, yet statistical methods that combine order and duration data to extract meaning have not, to our knowledge, been fully developed. Here we design novel semi-Markov methods, Bayesian estimation and classification trees to extract order and duration information from behavioural sequences and apply these methods to songs produced by male European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris, in two social contexts in which the function of song differs: a spring (breeding) and autumn (nonbreeding) context...
June 2016: Animal Behaviour
Yiying Hao, Jian Kang, Heinrich Wörtche
This study aims to explore how the soundscape quality of traffic noise environments can be improved by the masking effects of birdsong in terms of four soundscape characteristics, i.e., perceived loudness, naturalness, annoyance and pleasantness. Four factors that may influence the masking effects of birdsong (i.e., distance of the receiver from a sound source, loudness of masker, occurrence frequencies of masker, and visibility of sound sources) were examined by listening tests. The results show that the masking effects are more significant in the road traffic noise environments with lower sound levels (e...
August 2016: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Beau A Alward, Catherine de Bournonville, Trevor T Chan, Jacques Balthazart, Charlotte A Cornil, Gregory F Ball
Recent evidence has implicated steroid hormones, specifically estrogens, in the rapid modulation of cognitive processes. Songbirds have been a useful model system in the study of complex cognitive processes including birdsong, a naturally learned vocal behavior regulated by a discrete steroid-sensitive telencephalic circuitry. Singing behavior is known to be regulated by long-term actions of estrogens but rapid steroid modulation of this behavior has never been examined. We investigated if acute actions of estrogens regulate birdsong in canaries (Serinus canaria)...
2016: Scientific Reports
Kristofer E Bouchard, Michael S Brainard
Predicting future events is a critical computation for both perception and behavior. Despite the essential nature of this computation, there are few studies demonstrating neural activity that predicts specific events in learned, probabilistic sequences. Here, we test the hypotheses that the dynamics of internally generated neural activity are predictive of future events and are structured by the learned temporal-sequential statistics of those events. We recorded neural activity in Bengalese finch sensory-motor area HVC in response to playback of sequences from individuals' songs, and examined the neural activity that continued after stimulus offset...
August 23, 2016: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Philipp Norton, Constance Scharff
The human capacity for speech and vocal music depends on vocal imitation. Songbirds, in contrast to non-human primates, share this vocal production learning with humans. The process through which birds and humans learn many of their vocalizations as well as the underlying neural system exhibit a number of striking parallels and have been widely researched. In contrast, rhythm, a key feature of language, and music, has received surprisingly little attention in songbirds. Investigating temporal periodicity in bird song has the potential to inform the relationship between neural mechanisms and behavioral output and can also provide insight into the biology and evolution of musicality...
2016: Frontiers in Neuroscience
Takuya Koumura, Kazuo Okanoya
Researches on sequential vocalization often require analysis of vocalizations in long continuous sounds. In such studies as developmental ones or studies across generations in which days or months of vocalizations must be analyzed, methods for automatic recognition would be strongly desired. Although methods for automatic speech recognition for application purposes have been intensively studied, blindly applying them for biological purposes may not be an optimal solution. This is because, unlike human speech recognition, analysis of sequential vocalizations often requires accurate extraction of timing information...
2016: PloS One
Olga Fehér
In this article, I argue that a comparative approach focusing on the cognitive capacities and behavioral mechanisms that underlie vocal learning in songbirds and humans can provide valuable insights into the evolutionary origins of language. The experimental approaches I discuss use abnormal song and atypical linguistic input to study the processes of individual learning, social interaction, and cultural transmission. Atypical input places increased learning and communicative pressure on learners, so exploring how they respond to this type of input provides a particularly clear picture of the biases and constraints at work during learning and use...
July 20, 2016: Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
James Burridge, Steven Kenney
The songs and calls of many bird species, like human speech, form distinct regional dialects. We suggest that the process of dialect formation is analogous to the physical process of magnetic domain formation. We take the coastal breeding grounds of the Puget Sound white crowned sparrow as an example. Previous field studies suggest that birds of this species learn multiple songs early in life, and when establishing a territory for the first time, retain one of these dialects in order to match the majority of their neighbors...
June 2016: Physical Review. E
Kosuke Hamaguchi, Masashi Tanaka, Richard Mooney
How do forebrain and brainstem circuits interact to produce temporally precise and reproducible behaviors? Birdsong is an elaborate, temporally precise, and stereotyped vocal behavior controlled by a network of forebrain and brainstem nuclei. An influential idea is that song premotor neurons in a forebrain nucleus (HVC) form a synaptic chain that dictates song timing in a top-down manner. Here we combine physiological, dynamical, and computational methods to show that song timing is not generated solely by a mechanism localized to HVC but instead is the product of a distributed and recurrent synaptic network spanning the forebrain and brainstem, of which HVC is a component...
August 3, 2016: Neuron
Michael Smotherman, Mirjam Knörnschild, Grace Smarsh, Kirsten Bohn
Singing plays an important role in the social lives of several disparate bat species, but just how significant the behavior may be among bats generally is unknown. Recent discoveries suggest singing by bats might be surprisingly more diverse and widespread than anticipated, but if true then two questions must be addressed: firstly why has singing been so rarely documented among bats, and secondly do bats sing for the same reasons as songbirds? We address the first question by reviewing how sampling bias and technical constraints may have produced a myopic view of bat social communication...
August 2016: Journal of Comparative Physiology. A, Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Kevin R Wilson, Desiray J Cannon-Smith, Benjamin P Burke, Orry C Birdsong, Stephen J Archibald, Timothy J Hubin
Two novel pyridine pendant-armed macrocycles structurally reinforced by an ethyl bridge, either between adjacent nitrogens (for side-bridged) or non-adjacent nitrogens (for cross-bridged), have been synthesized and complexed with a range of transition metal ions (Co(2+), Ni(2+), Cu(2+) and Zn(2+)). X-ray crystal structures of selected cross-bridged complexes were obtained which showed the characteristic cis-V configuration with potential labile cis binding sites. The complexes have been characterized by their electronic spectra and magnetic moments, which show the expected high spin divalent metal complex in most cases...
August 16, 2016: Polyhedron
Galen F Lynch, Tatsuo S Okubo, Alexander Hanuschkin, Richard H R Hahnloser, Michale S Fee
Songbirds learn and produce complex sequences of vocal gestures. Adult birdsong requires premotor nucleus HVC, in which projection neurons (PNs) burst sparsely at stereotyped times in the song. It has been hypothesized that PN bursts, as a population, form a continuous sequence, while a different model of HVC function proposes that both HVC PN and interneuron activity is tightly organized around motor gestures. Using a large dataset of PNs and interneurons recorded in singing birds, we test several predictions of these models...
May 18, 2016: Neuron
W Halfwerk, C Dingle, D M Brinkhuizen, J W Poelstra, J Komdeur, H Slabbekoorn
Birdsong is a sexually selected trait that could play an important evolutionary role when related taxa come into secondary contact. Many songbird species, however, learn their songs through copying one or more tutors, which complicates the evolutionary outcome of such contact. Two subspecies of a presumed vocal learner, the grey-breasted wood-wren (Henicorhina leucophrys), replace each other altitudinally across the western slope of the Ecuadorian Andes. These subspecies are morphologically very similar, but show striking differences in their song...
July 2016: Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Svenja Hoier, Christine Pfeifle, Sophie von Merten, Miriam Linnenbrink
House mice (Mus musculus) live in social groups where they frequently interact with conspecifics, thus communication (e.g. chemical and/or auditory) is essential. It is commonly known that male and female mice produce complex vocalizations in the ultrasonic range (USV) that remind of high-pitched birdsong (so called mouse song) which is mainly used in social interactions. Earlier studies suggest that mice use their USVs for mate attraction and mate choice, but they could also be used as signal during hierarchy establishment and familiarization, or other communication purposes...
2016: PloS One
Catherine M Urbano, Avery E Aston, Brenton G Cooper
The processes of producing and acquiring birdsong, like human speech, utilize interdependent neural systems for vocal learning and production. In addition to song, these brain areas are undoubtedly used for other affiliative behaviors. Oscine sound production is lateralized because their vocal organ contains two independently controlled sound sources. Therefore, songbirds offer a unique opportunity to study the biological relevance of lateralized behavioral control. Bengalese finches (Lonchura striata domestica) produce different types of sound with each sound source: the left sound generator produces tonal frequencies from 1 to 4 kHz and the right sound source produces the lower frequency (<2 kHz) tonal and broadband sounds...
May 4, 2016: Neuroreport
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