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Author Notes:

Correspondence: Donna L. Maney; Email: dmaney@emory.edu

Conceived and designed the experiments: DLM and KWS.

Performed the experiments: LLM, MB, JOP, AIR, SES and DLM.

Analyzed the data: KWS and DLM.

Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: KWS and DLM.

Wrote the paper: LLM, MB, KWS and DLM.

Acknowledgments: We thank David Lee, Melody Martin, Arundhati Murthy, Danielle Racke, Allison Reid, Katrina Salvante, Katy Shepard, and Said Saab for technical assistance.

We also thank Cathy Auger and Darryl Neill for technical advice.

We are grateful to the Emory University Department of Biology for use of facilities and equipment.

Disclosures: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Research Funding:

This research was supported by NINDS R01 NS055125 to KWS (www.ninds.nih.gov), NSF IBN-0346984 to DLM (www.nsf.gov), and the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience IBN-9876754 (www.cbn-atl.org). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

This research was supported by NINDS R01 NS055125 to KWS (www.ninds.nih.gov), NSF IBN-0346984 to DLM (www.nsf.gov), and the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience IBN-9876754 (www.cbn-atl.org).

Rapid Effects of Hearing Song on Catecholaminergic Activity in the Songbird Auditory Pathway


Journal Title:



Volume 7, Number 6


, Pages e39388-e39388

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Catecholaminergic (CA) neurons innervate sensory areas and affect the processing of sensory signals. For example, in birds, CA fibers innervate the auditory pathway at each level, including the midbrain, thalamus, and forebrain. We have shown previously that in female European starlings, CA activity in the auditory forebrain can be enhanced by exposure to attractive male song for one week. It is not known, however, whether hearing song can initiate that activity more rapidly. Here, we exposed estrogen-primed, female white-throated sparrows to conspecific male song and looked for evidence of rapid synthesis of catecholamines in auditory areas. In one hemisphere of the brain, we used immunohistochemistry to detect the phosphorylation of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), a rate-limiting enzyme in the CA synthetic pathway. We found that immunoreactivity for TH phosphorylated at serine 40 increased dramatically in the auditory forebrain, but not the auditory thalamus and midbrain, after 15 min of song exposure. In the other hemisphere, we used high pressure liquid chromatography to measure catecholamines and their metabolites. We found that two dopamine metabolites, dihydroxyphenylacetic acid and homovanillic acid, increased in the auditory forebrain but not the auditory midbrain after 30 min of exposure to conspecific song. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that exposure to a behaviorally relevant auditory stimulus rapidly induces CA activity, which may play a role in auditory responses.

Copyright information:

© 2012 Matragrano et al.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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