Comparative studies of sex differences in the song-control system of songbirds

Scott A. MacDougall-Shackleton, Gregory F. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Songbirds exhibit some of the most extreme sex differences in the brain of all vertebrates. Understanding the function of these sex differences has relied on making interspecies comparisons. In some species, females sing rarely or not at all, and the brain nuclei that control song are many times larger in volume in males than in females. In other species, males and females sing approximately equally, and the sizes of the brain nuclei that control song are approximately equal between the sexes. This article reviews sex differences in the song-control system of songbirds, and introduces statistical comparative methods developed by evolutionary biologists. These methods control for phylogenetic effects while comparing the co-evolution of traits. The extreme sex differences in song seem to have co-evolved with the extreme sex differences in singing behavior in songbird species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)432-436
Number of pages5
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Volume22
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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