Effects of early song experience on song preferences and song control and auditory brain regions in female house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus)
Hernandez, A.M.; MacDougall-Shackleton, S.A.
Journal of Neurobiology 59(2): 247-258
We examined the effects of song tutoring on adult song preferences, volume of song-control brain regions, and activity of auditory brain regions in female house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus). Hand-reared females were tutored with local songs, foreign songs, or no song. We then examined adult song preferences, determined the Nissl-defined volume of the song-control nuclei HVc, Area X, and RA, and compared the number of cells immunoreactive for Zenk protein in the auditory regions NCM and cmHV, following playback of songs heard early in life (Tutor/Playback Match) versus not heard (Tutor/Playback Nonmatch). All hand-reared birds exhibited preferences for locally recorded song over foreign or heterospecific song. We found no difference in the volume of song-control nuclei among the three groups. As well, we found no difference in the number of Zenk immunoreactive cells in NCM and cmHV between females in the Tutor/Playback Match group and females in the Tutor/Playback Nonmatch group. Isolate-reared birds showed greater Zenk immunoreactivity following song playback than either tutored group. Thus, early auditory experience may not play a role in adult geographic song preferences, suggesting that genetic factors can lead to preferences for songs of local dialects. Song tutoring did not influence the size of song-control regions nor Zenk induction levels following song playback, suggesting that early experience with particular songs does not influence Zenk expression. However, overall greater activation in isolate females in auditory areas suggests that exposure to song early in life may increase the selectivity of Zenk activation to song playback in auditory areas.