Sequential learning from multiple tutors and serial retuning of auditory neurons in a brain area important to birdsong learning
Songbirds hear many vocal models during a juvenile sensitive period, transiently imitating some while retaining imitations of others in their repertoires. Despite subsequent conflicting experiences, early experience can exert lasting effects on neural structure and function, raising the possibility that transiently expressed vocalizations or their relevant models are stored in the adult songbird's brain. One site where learned song representations could be stored is the lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium (LMAN), which in the adult songbird contains neurons responsive to playback of the bird's own song (BOS) and the tutor song (TS). To test whether LMAN neurons develop and retain responses to transiently learned songs, we exposed zebra finch hatchlings [posthatch day 0 (PHD0)] to a first TS (TS1) for about 30 days, isolated them for about 30 days, then exposed them to a second TS (TS2) for 30 days starting at PHD 60. Behavioral analysis showed that PHD 60 juveniles had started to copy TS1, although this copying was transient, because the adult BOS resembled TS2 and not TS1. We found that LMAN auditory responses paralleled these behavioral changes: LMAN neurons at PHD 60 responded strongly and selectively to both the juvenile BOS and TS1, whereas LMAN neurons in adults responded to the adult BOS and TS2, but not to the transiently learned song or its model. Therefore LMAN auditory responses can be lost or overwritten as the juvenile copies a new song, suggesting that the adult LMAN does not store information about transiently learned songs or their models. Copyright © 2004 The American Physiological Society.
Yazaki-Sugiyama, Y; Mooney, R
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