Seasonal changes in selectivity for individual male song in a female songbird basal ganglia nucleus - Université de Rennes Access content directly
Conference Poster Year : 2012

Seasonal changes in selectivity for individual male song in a female songbird basal ganglia nucleus

Geert de Groof
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Colline Poirier
Isabelle George
Martine Hausberger


In seasonally breeding songbirds, such as European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), male song plays a direct role in immediate mate attraction during, but not outside of, the breeding season. The present experiment was designed to explore whether female starlings would display differential neural responses to male song during and outside of the breeding season. Starlings are highly social songbirds whose songs show different levels of variations that reflect not only species-specific but also individual-specific identity. Taking advantage of the whole-brain approach allowed by functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), we measured the neural responses to these songs in medetomidine-anesthetized adult female starlings (N=11) in both the breeding (spring) and the non-breeding (fall) seasons. Subjects were exposed to synthetic pure tones and to two types of male starling song: species-specific songs (used in species and population recognition) and individual conspecific songs (used in individual recognition). The direct comparison of the neural activation elicited by songs used in individual recognition, as compared to species-specific songs, revealed that perception of individual male songs induced a greater activity in the regions analogous to the auditory cortex of mammals (Field L and caudomedial nidopallium (NCM)) and in a basal ganglia homolog called Area X. There were however differences within these regions according to the season. Whereas the dorso-caudal part of NCM showed the same selectivity for individual male songs in both seasons (unlike male starlings), Area X showed this selectivity only during the breeding season. In the non-breeding season, selectivity for individual male songs was not present anymore in Area X. Responses to synthetic pure tone stimuli remained unchanged between the seasons, indicating that this seasonal change in selectivity for individual stimuli in Area X was not due to a change in auditory perception as a whole. Finally, the data seems to suggest lateralization of selectivity for individual songs towards the left basal ganglia. These results suggest that seasons impact auditory processing and that a differential representation of sounds with distinct biological significance is thus observed between seasons. This opens questions about a potential neural substrate for the extraction of biologically relevant information used in vocal communication.
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hal-01321940 , version 1 (26-05-2016)


  • HAL Id : hal-01321940 , version 1


Geert de Groof, Colline Poirier, Isabelle George, Martine Hausberger, Annemie van Der Linden. Seasonal changes in selectivity for individual male song in a female songbird basal ganglia nucleus. Neuroscience 2012, Oct 2012, Nouvelle Orléans, United States. ⟨hal-01321940⟩
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