Deafening drives cell-type-specific changes to dendritic spines in a sensorimotor nucleus important to learned vocalizations.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Hearing loss prevents vocal learning and causes learned vocalizations to deteriorate, but how vocalization-related auditory feedback acts on neural circuits that control vocalization remains poorly understood. We deafened adult zebra finches, which rely on auditory feedback to maintain their learned songs, to test the hypothesis that deafening modifies synapses on neurons in a sensorimotor nucleus important to song production. Longitudinal in vivo imaging revealed that deafening selectively decreased the size and stability of dendritic spines on neurons that provide input to a striatothalamic pathway important to audition-dependent vocal plasticity, and changes in spine size preceded and predicted subsequent vocal degradation. Moreover, electrophysiological recordings from these neurons showed that structural changes were accompanied by functional weakening of both excitatory and inhibitory synapses, increased intrinsic excitability, and changes in spontaneous action potential output. These findings shed light on where and how auditory feedback acts within sensorimotor circuits to shape learned vocalizations.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Tschida, KA; Mooney, R

Published Date

  • March 8, 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 73 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 1028 - 1039

PubMed ID

  • 22405211

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3299981

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1097-4199

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.12.038


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States