Title
Structural changes between seasons in the songbird auditory forebrain Structural changes between seasons in the songbird auditory forebrain
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Faculty of Sciences. Physics
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences . Biomedical Sciences
Publication type
article
Publication
Baltimore, Md ,
Subject
Biology
Source (journal)
The journal of neuroscience. - Baltimore, Md
Volume/pages
43(2009) , p. 13557-13565
ISSN
0270-6474
1529-2401
ISI
000271266600015
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
The song control system (SCS) of seasonal songbirds shows remarkable seasonal plasticity. Male starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) sing throughout the year, but in the breeding season, when concentrations of testosterone are elevated, the song is highly sexually motivated. The main goal of this study was to investigate structural seasonal changes in regions involved in auditory processing and in socio-sexual behavior. Using in vivo Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), we measured in breeding and nonbreeding seasons volume and tissue characteristics of several brain regions of nine adult male starlings. We demonstrate that the songbird brain exhibits an extreme seasonal plasticity not merely limited to the SCS. Volumetric analysis showed seasonal telencephalon volume changes and more importantly also a volumetric change in the caudal region of the nidopallium (NCM), a region analogous to the mammalian secondary auditory cortex. Analysis of the DTI data allowed detection of seasonal changes in cellular attributes in NCM and regions involved in social behavior. This study extends our view on a seasonally dynamic avian brain which not only hones its song control system but also auditory and social systems to be prepared for the breeding season.
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