Slow NMDA-EPSCs at synapses critical for song development are not required for song learning in zebra finches.
Birdsong, like human speech, is learned via auditory experience during a developmentally restricted sensitive period. Within projection neurons of two avian forebrain nuclei, NMDA receptor-mediated EPSCs (NMDA-EPSCs) become fast during song development, a transition posited to limit learning. To discover whether slow NMDA-EPSCs at these synapses are required for learning, we delayed song learning beyond its normal endpoint, post-hatch day (PHD) 65, by raising zebra finches in isolation from song tutors. At PHD45, before learning, isolation delayed NMDA-EPSC maturation, but only transiently. By PHD65, NMDA-EPSCs in isolates were fast and adult-like, yet isolates presented with tutors readily learned song. Thus song learning did not require slow NMDA-EPSCs at synapses critical for song development.
Livingston, FS; White, SA; Mooney, R
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