Neural correlates of singing behavior in male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

Scott A. MacDougall-Shackleton, Stewart H. Hulse, Gregory F. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the relationship between the volumes of four song control nuclei: the high vocal center (HVC), the lateral part of the magnocellular nucleus of the anterior neostriatum (IMAN), Area X, and the robust nucleus of the archistriatum (RA), as well as syrinx mass, with several measures of song output and song complexity in male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Male zebra finches' songs were recorded in standardized recording sessions. The syrinx and brain were subsequently collected from each bird. Volumes of the song control nuclei were reconstructed by measuring the cross-sectional area of serial sections. Syrinx mass was positively correlated with RA volume. The volume of IMAN was negatively related to element repertoire size and the number of elements per phrase. We found no other correlations between brain and behavioral measures. This study, combined with others, indicates that the evidence for a general relationship among songbirds between HVC volume and song complexity is equivocal. There are clear species differences in this brain-behavior correlation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-430
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 5 1998


  • Birdsong
  • Brain-behavior correlation
  • Song control system
  • Songbird

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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