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See detailThe effect of auditory distractors on song discrimination in male canaries (Serinus canaria)
Appeltants, D.; Gentner, T. Q.; Hulse, S. H. et al

in Behavioural Processes (2005), 69(3), 331-341

Male songbirds such as canaries produce complex learned vocalizations that are used in the context of mate attraction and territory defense. Successful mate attraction or territorial defense requires that ... [more ▼]

Male songbirds such as canaries produce complex learned vocalizations that are used in the context of mate attraction and territory defense. Successful mate attraction or territorial defense requires that a bird be able to recognize individuals based on their vocal performance and identify these songs in a noisy background. In order to learn more about how birds are able to solve this problem, we investigated, with a two-alternative choice procedure, the ability of adult male canaries to discriminate between conspecific song segments from two different birds and to maintain this discrimination when conspecific songs are superimposed with a variety of distractors. The results indicate that male canaries have the ability to discriminate, with a high level of accuracy song segments produced by two different conspecific birds. Song discrimination was partially maintained when the stimuli were masked by auditory distractors, but the accuracy of the discrimination progressively declined as a function of the number of masking distractors. The type of distractor used in the experiments (other conspecific songs or different types of artificial white noise) did not markedly affect the rate of deterioration of the song discrimination. These data indicate that adult male canaries have the perceptual abilities to discriminate and selectively attend to one ongoing sound that occurs simultaneously with one or more other sounds. The administration of a noradrenergic neurotoxin did not impair markedly the discrimination learning abilities although the number of subjects tested was too small to allow any firm conclusion. In these conditions, however, the noradrenergic lesion significantly increased the number failures to respond in the discrimination learning task suggesting a role, in canaries, of the noradrenergic system in some attentional processes underlying song learning and processing. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailCatecholaminergic inputs to aromatase cells in the canary auditory forebrain
Appeltants, D.; Ball, G. F.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Neuroreport (2004), 15(11), 1727-1730

The caudomedial nidopallium in songbirds is a specialized forebrain auditory region involved in the processing of species-typical vocalizations. It receives a prominent catecholaminergic projection with ... [more ▼]

The caudomedial nidopallium in songbirds is a specialized forebrain auditory region involved in the processing of species-typical vocalizations. It receives a prominent catecholaminergic projection with many fibers forming basket-like structures around non-immunoreactive cells. We investigated in male canaries the anatomical relationship between tyrosine hydroxylase and cells immunoreactive for the steroid metabolizing enzyme, aromatase, in the caudomedial nidopallium using double-label immunocytochemistry. Fibers immunoreactive for tyrosine hydroxylase established numerous close contacts with aromatase-immunoreactive cells and often encircled these cells to form basket-like structures. Aromatase containing cells in the caudomedial nidopallium are therefore a major target of catecholaminergic inputs in canary. Interactions between catecholaminergic systems and aromatase in the caudomedial nidopallium may provide one mechanism for the regulation of estrogens involved in song perception and memorization. [less ▲]

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See detailThe activation of birdsong by testosterone - Multiple sites of action and role of ascending catecholamine projections
Ball, G. F.; Castelino, C. B.; Maney, D. L. et al

in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (2003), 1007

Birdsong is a species-typical stereotypic vocalization produced in the context of reproduction and aggression. Among temperate-zone songbirds, it is produced primarily by males, and its frequency and ... [more ▼]

Birdsong is a species-typical stereotypic vocalization produced in the context of reproduction and aggression. Among temperate-zone songbirds, it is produced primarily by males, and its frequency and quality are enhanced by the presence of the gonadal steroid hormone testosterone in the plasma. In the brain, the effects of testosterone on song behavior involve both estrogenic and androgenic metabolites of testosterone that are locally produced and act via their cognate receptors. Androgen, and in some cases estrogen, receptors are present in many specialized forebrain song control nuclei. Testosterone can regulate catecholamine steady-state levels and turnover in these song control regions. Tracing studies combined with immunocytochemistry for tyrosine hydroxylase (a marker of catecholamine synthesis) reveal several catecholamine cell groups that project to forebrain song control nuclei. These brain areas also express the mRNA for either androgen receptors or estrogen receptor alpha, and androgens enhance the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase. Dopaminergic cell groups that project to song nuclei express the protein product of the immediate early gene fos in association with the production of territorial song. Thus, testosterone may be acting on song behavior via these ascending catecholamine cell groups. Chemical lesioning studies suggest that noradrenergic projections to the song system are involved in the latency to produce song and the ability to discriminate conspecific from heterospecific song. The song control circuit may thus be modulated in significant ways via the androgen regulation of forebrain catecholamine systems. [less ▲]

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See detailSong activation by testosterone is associated with an increased catecholaminergic innervation of the song control system in female canaries
Appeltants, D.; Ball, G. F.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Neuroscience (2003), 121(3), 801-814

In canaries, singing and a large number of morphological features of the neural system that mediates the learning, perception and production of song exhibit marked sex differences. Although these ... [more ▼]

In canaries, singing and a large number of morphological features of the neural system that mediates the learning, perception and production of song exhibit marked sex differences. Although these differences have been mainly attributed to sex-specific patterns of the action of testosterone and its metabolites, the mechanisms by which sex steroids regulate brain and behavior are far from being completely understood. Given that the density of immunoreactive catecholaminergic fibers that innervate telencephalic song nuclei in canaries is higher in males, which sing, than in females, which usually do not sing, we hypothesized that some of the effects induced by testosterone on song behavior are mediated through the action of the steroid on the catecholaminergic neurons which innervate the song control nuclei. Therefore, we investigated in female canaries the effects of a treatment with exogenous testosterone on song production, on the volume of song control nuclei, and on the catecholaminergic innervation of these nuclei as assessed by immunocytochemical visualization of tyrosine hydroxylase. Testosterone induced male-like singing in all females and increased by about 80% the volume of two telencephalic song control nuclei, the high vocal center (HVC) and the nucleus robustus archistriatalis (RA). Testosterone also significantly increased the fractional area covered by tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive structures (fibers and varicosities) in most telencephalic song control nuclei (HVC, the lateral and medial parts of the magnocellular nucleus of the anterior neostriatum, the nucleus interfacialis, and to a lesser extent RA). By contrast, testosterone did not affect the catecholaminergic innervation of the telencephalic areas adjacent to HVC and RA. Together these data demonstrate that, in parallel to its effects on song behavior and on the morphology of the song control system, testosterone also regulates the catecholaminergic innervation of most telencephalic song control nuclei in canaries. The endocrine regulation of singing may thus involve the neuromodulatory action of specialized dopaminergic and/or noradrenergic projections onto several key parts of the song control system. (C) 2003 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailNoradrenergic control of auditory information processing in female canaries
Appeltants, D.; Del Negro, C.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Behavioural Brain Research (2002), 133(2), 221-235

An ethological procedure, based on the study of the sexual responsiveness of female canaries (Serinus canaria) to song playbacks was used to investigate the function of central noradrenergic inputs in the ... [more ▼]

An ethological procedure, based on the study of the sexual responsiveness of female canaries (Serinus canaria) to song playbacks was used to investigate the function of central noradrenergic inputs in the processing of auditory information. The effects of a noradrenergic denervation on sexual responses was analyzed in females exposed to playbacks of biological relevant auditory stimuli, i.e. sexually stimulating songs, presented alone or masked by auditory distractors. A decrease in behavioral responsiveness was observed as a function of the amount of masking distractors indicating that female canaries have the perceptual ability to discriminate and selectively attend to biologically relevant songs. After the systemic administration of DSP-4, a specific noradrenergic neurotoxin, females exhibited an overall decrease in sexual responsiveness to songs masked or not by distractors. No effect of DSP-4 were detected on the motor activity nor on reproductive behaviors. These results indicate that central noradrenergic inputs modulate the sexual behavior of female canaries by affecting the auditory processing of relevant information contained in sexually stimulating songs. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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See detailThe origin of catecholaminergic inputs to the song control nucleus RA in canaries
Appeltants, D.; Ball, G. F.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Neuroreport (2002), 13(5), 649-653

Song control nuclei in oscines receive dense catecholaminergic inputs but their anatomical origin is poorly understood. We analyzed catecholaminergic inputs to the nucleus robustus archistriatalis (RA) in ... [more ▼]

Song control nuclei in oscines receive dense catecholaminergic inputs but their anatomical origin is poorly understood. We analyzed catecholaminergic inputs to the nucleus robustus archistriatalis (RA) in canaries by retrograde tract-tracing combined with immunocytochemistry for tyrosine hydroxylase. In both sexes, dopaminergic inputs to RA come mostly from the A1 1 (mesencephalic central gray) and A10 (area ventralis of Tsai) cell groups but the locus coeruleus and subcoeruleus (A6) also send noradrenergic projections to RA. No input originates in the hypothalamic and in the A5 to A1 catecholaminergic groups. These findings and previous work on the high vocal center (HVc) indicate that the two major nuclei of the motor pathway controlling song production (RA and HVc) receive catecholaminergic inputs of similar origins. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Distribution of Tyrosine Hydroxylase in the Canary Brain: Demonstration of a Specific and Sexually Dimorphic Catecholaminergic Innervation of the Telencephalic Song Control Nulcei
Appeltants, D.; Ball, G. F.; Balthazart, Jacques ULg

in Cell & Tissue Research (2001), 304(2), 237-59

Singing and the processing of auditory information related to song can be affected by experimental manipulations of catecholamine activity in the brain of zebra finches. We investigated, by ... [more ▼]

Singing and the processing of auditory information related to song can be affected by experimental manipulations of catecholamine activity in the brain of zebra finches. We investigated, by immunocytochemistry in the brain of male and female canaries, the distribution of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting step in the synthesis of catecholamines. Fibers immunoreactive for TH (TH-ir) were particularly abundant in the lobus parolfactorius, the paleostriatum primitivum, and the nucleus septalis lateralis. A high density of TH-ir basket-like structures was observed in the caudomedial neostriatum, an area involved in song perception and recognition. In most males, a high density of TH-ir fibers outlined the telencephalic song control nuclei including the high vocal center, the nucleus robustus archistriatalis, the nucleus interfascialis, the lateral and medial parts of the magnocellular nucleus of the anterior neostriatum, and area X of the lobus parolfactorius. The higher density of fibers immunoreactive for TH in these nuclei, compared with the surrounding telencephalon, supports the notion that the morphological evolution of the song control nuclei was accompanied by a neurochemical specialization. This specific innervation of the song control regions was, in general, not found in females. The specific presence of high densities of TH-ir fibers in the song system of male canaries and the sex difference of this innervation provide anatomical evidence in support of the claim that dopamine and/or norepinephrine play important roles in the modulation of song learning and production. [less ▲]

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See detailIdentification of the Origin of Catecholaminergic Inputs to Hvc in Canaries by Retrograde Tract Tracing Combined with Tyrosine Hydroxylase Immunocytochemistry
Appeltants, D.; Absil, Philippe ULg; Balthazart, Jacques ULg et al

in Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy (2000), 18(3), 117-33

The telencephalic nucleus HVc (sometimes referred to as the high vocal center) plays a key role in the production and perception of birdsong. Although many afferent and efferent connections to this ... [more ▼]

The telencephalic nucleus HVc (sometimes referred to as the high vocal center) plays a key role in the production and perception of birdsong. Although many afferent and efferent connections to this nucleus have been described, it has been clear for many years, based on chemical neuroanatomical criteria, that there are projections to this nucleus that remain undescribed. A variety of methods including high performance liquid chromatography, immunohistochemistry and receptor autoradiography have identified high levels of catecholamine transmitters, the presence of enzymes involved in the synthesis of catecholamines such as tyrosine hydroxylase and a variety of catecholamine receptor sub-types in the HVc of several songbird species. However, no definitive projections to HVc have been described from cells groups known to synthesize catecholamines. These projections were analyzed in the present study by retrograde tract tracing combined with immunocytochemistry for tyrosine hydroxylase. The origin of the catecholaminergic inputs to HVc were determined based exclusively on birds in which injections of the retrograde tracer (latex fluospheres) were confined within the cytoarchitectonic boundaries of the nucleus. Retrogradely transported latex fluospheres were found mainly in cells of two dopaminergic nuclei, the mesencephalic central gray (A11) and, to a lesser extend, the area ventralis of Tsai (A10; homologous to the ventral tegmental area of mammals). A few retrogradely-labelled cells were also found in the noradrenergic nucleus subceruleus (A6). Most of these retrogradely-labelled cells were also tyrosine hydroxylase-positive. Other catecholaminergic nuclei were devoid of retrograde label. These data converge with others studies to indicate that HVc receives discrete dopaminergic and noradrenergic inputs. These inputs may influence the steroid regulation of HVc, attentional processes related to song and modulate sensory inputs to the song system. [less ▲]

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See detailAppetitive and consummatory male sexual behavior in Japanese quail are differentially regulated by subregions of the preoptic medial nucleus
Balthazart, Jacques ULg; Absil, Philippe ULg; Gérard, Marie-Paule ULg et al

in Journal of Neuroscience (1998), 18(16), 6512-6527

Central testosterone aromatization is required for the activation of both appetitive (ASB) and consummatory (CSB) male sexual behavior in Japanese quail. There are two major clusters of aromatase ... [more ▼]

Central testosterone aromatization is required for the activation of both appetitive (ASB) and consummatory (CSB) male sexual behavior in Japanese quail. There are two major clusters of aromatase immunoreactive (ARO-ir) cells in the rostral forebrain; these outline the nucleus preopticus medialis (POM) and the nucleus striae terminalis (BST). We investigated the role of these nuclei in the regulation of ASB and CSB. Appetitive male sexual behavior was measured with the use of a learned social proximity procedure that quantified the time spent by a male in front of a window with a view of a female who was subsequently released into the cage, providing an opportunity for CSB. Males first acquired the response and then received bilateral electrolytic lesions aimed at the POM or BST, followed by retesting for ASB and CSB. Brain sections were stained for ARO-ir, and lesions to the two ARO-ir cell groups were quantitatively characterized. Lesions damaging the POM completely abolished CSB and also significantly decreased ASB. Lesions of the rostral BST had no effect on ASB, but moderately decreased CSB. Detailed anatomical analysis revealed that lesions of a subdivision of the POM just rostral to the anterior commissure specifically impair CSB, whereas lesions that are more rostral to this subdivision induce a severe deficit in ASB. These data indicate that different subregions of the POM regulate ASB and CSB in a somewhat independent manner, whereas the BST is only important in the regulation of CSB. [less ▲]

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