Neural activity associated with rhythmicity of song in juvenile male and female zebra finches

Jennifer Lampen, J. Devin McAuley, Soo Eun Chang, Juli Wade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Rhythm is an important aspect of both human speech and birdsong. Adult zebra finches show increased neural activity following exposure to arrhythmic compared to rhythmic song in regions similar to the mammalian auditory association cortex and amygdala. This pattern may indicate that birds are detecting errors in the arrhythmic song relative to their learned song template or to more general expectations of song structure. Here we exposed juvenile zebra finches to natural conspecific song (rhythmic) or song with altered inter-syllable intervals (arrhythmic) prior to or during template formation, or afterward as males are matching vocal production to a memorized song template (sensorimotor integration). Before template formation, expression of the immediate early gene ZENK was increased in the caudomedial nidopallium (NCM) of birds exposed to rhythmic relative to arrhythmic song. During template formation, ZENK expression was increased in the caudomedial mesopallium (CMM) of birds exposed to arrhythmic relative to rhythmic song. These results suggest that the youngest birds may be predisposed to respond to a more natural stimulus, and a template may be required for arrhythmic song to elicit increased neural activity. It also appears that functional development across the brain regions investigated continues to maturity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioural Processes
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Caudomedial mesopallium
  • Caudomedial nidopallium
  • Development
  • Egr-1
  • Songbird
  • ZENK


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