Seasonal variation in the volume of various song control nuclei in many passerine species remains one of the best examples of naturally occurring adult neuroplasticity among vertebrates. The lateral portion of the magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium (lMAN) is a song nucleus that is important for song learning and seems to be critical for inducing variability in the song structure that is later pruned via a feedback process to produce adult crystallized song. To date, lMAN has not been shown to exhibit seasonal changes in volume, probably because it is difficult to resolve the boundaries of lMAN when employing histological methods based on Nissl staining. Here, lMAN core volumes were examined in intact photostimulated (i.e., breeding), castrated photostimulated and photorefractory (i.e., non-breeding) male starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) to investigate the degree of seasonal variation in brain morphology. We present data demonstrating that the volumes of the total MAN and lMANcore delineated by enkephalin immunoreactivity are greater in photostimulated male starlings as compared to photorefractory males. Moreover, two other regions associated with the song system that have not been investigated previously in the context of seasonal plasticity namely (i) the medial portion of MAN (mMAN), and (ii) the nucleus interfacialis (NIf) did not display significant volumetric variation. We propose that greater lMAN core volumes are associated with the increase in vocal plasticity that is generally observed prior to production of stereotyped song.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience