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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

FOS and ZENK responses in 45-day-old zebra finches vary with auditory stimulus and brain region, but not sex.

Male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) begin to sing around 45 days posthatch (d45) and tune their songs to match learned templates. Females never develop song, but they use male conspecific vocalizations for mate choice. While auditory perception is critical for both sexes, the responses of the immediate early genes (IEGs) ZENK and FOS differ in auditory brain areas of d30 males and females. The present study examined expression of these IEGs in the caudomedial nidopallium (NCM), caudomedial mesopallium ( CMM; formerly cHV), and the hippocampus (HP) in both sexes at d45 in response to conspecific, heterospecific, or no songs. Overall, zebra finch song presentations resulted in the highest density of ZENK and FOS cells in each region analyzed, but expression varied across brain areas. Contrary to d30 birds, the IEG response patterns did not differ between the sexes. ZENK-immunoreactivity was significantly increased following exposure to conspecific songs compared to no songs, and zebra finch song presentations produced more FOS-immunoreactive nuclei than both heterospecific and no songs. While the pattern was consistent, significant effects of stimulus type were seen only in the NCM when the brain regions were analyzed separately. Furthermore, levels of FOS- and ZENK-immunoreactive neurons were higher in the lateral than medial NCM in both sexes. Along with previous work from our lab and others, these data suggest that at d45 neuronal responses within perceptual regions are still maturing on some levels, but IEG expression has acquired a number of adult characteristics.[1]


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