Bilateral syringeal coupling during phonation of a songbird.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The syrinx of oscine birds ("true songbirds") is a double vocal organ, and each side has generally been presumed to function independently under separate neural control during phonation. A significant counterexample is demonstrated here in the production of a common vocalization by the black-capped chickadee (Parus atricapillus), in which the 2 acoustic sources of the syrinx interact in a nonlinear fashion. The chickadee produces a sound with multiple frequency components that superficially resemble harmonics. An analysis of vocal production after unilateral and bilateral syringeal denervation shows instead that these frequency components are sum and difference frequencies, or heterodyne frequencies, resulting from cross-modulation between the 2 syringeal sides. A limited form of this bilateral coupling may be achieved after unilateral denervation of either syringeal side but not after bilateral denervation. Unilaterally denervated birds are capable of significant improvement in coupling after 10 d, too short a period for neural regrowth. These results suggest that coupling arises from a passive physical interaction between the 2 syringeal sources which is activated or regulated in some fashion by neural control from either side.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Nowicki, S; Capranica, RR

Published Date

  • December 1986

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 6 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 3595 - 3610

PubMed ID

  • 3794791

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6568646

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1529-2401

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0270-6474

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1523/jneurosci.06-12-03595.1986


  • eng