Noradrenergic deficits alter processing of communication signals in female songbirds

Kathleen S. Lynch, Gregory F. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

During acoustic communication, animals must attend to sounds from a particular source while simultaneously rejecting intrusion from other sources. One possible candidate mechanism for this process is the noradrenergic system. Noradrenaline is a neuromodulator that tunes sensory processing systems and regulates attention. We examined whether pharmacological degradation of the noradrenergic system using N-(2-chloroethyl)-N-2-bromobenzyl-amine hydrochloride (DSP-4) modifies processing of species-typical auditory signals in female canaries (Serinus canaria). We measured auditory responses to conspecific and heterospecific songs using ZENK protein expression within the caudomedial nidopallium (NCM) and the mesopallium caudomedial (CMM). Song-induced ZENK expression in these auditory forebrain areas is typically higher in birds exposed to conspecific songs as opposed to heterospecific songs. Our results reveal that this differential ZENK induction is abolished specifically within dNCM and CMM in female canaries treated with DSP-4. Furthermore, in DSP-4-treated birds, conspecific song-induced ZENK expression is significantly reduced when compared to saline-treated birds. This suggests that the noradrenergic system modifies auditory processing by enhancing neuronal responses to signals relevant to survival and reproduction rather than inhibiting neuronal responses to signals that are less relevant. Overall, our results reveal that noradrenaline plays a significant neuromodulatory role during the reception of species-typical communication signals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-214
Number of pages8
JournalBrain, Behavior and Evolution
Volume72
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2008

Fingerprint

Songbirds
Music
Canaries
Communication
Birds
Norepinephrine
Auditory Cortex
Prosencephalon
Acoustics
Amines
Reproduction
Neurotransmitter Agents
Pharmacology
DSP 4
Proteins

Keywords

  • Caudomedial nidopallium (NCM)
  • DSP-4
  • Immediate early genes
  • Mesopallium caudomedial (CMM)
  • Noradrenaline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Noradrenergic deficits alter processing of communication signals in female songbirds. / Lynch, Kathleen S.; Ball, Gregory F.

In: Brain, Behavior and Evolution, Vol. 72, No. 3, 11.2008, p. 207-214.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Lynch, Kathleen S. ; Ball, Gregory F. / Noradrenergic deficits alter processing of communication signals in female songbirds. In: Brain, Behavior and Evolution. 2008 ; Vol. 72, No. 3. pp. 207-214.
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