Neural mechanisms of hormone induced song development
Song development in songbirds is dependent on sex hormones. It has been shown that testosterone treatment is affecting singing behavior by stereotyping the structure of song. Testosterone induced changes in song behavior are based on anatomical and cyto-architectural changes in brain areas responsible for song production. The neurophysiological mechanisms that underlie the behavioral alterations are so far not known. Although female canaries possess a functional vocal control system, they usually do not sing (spontaneous song production can only very rarely be observed). However, testosterone treatment can induce singing in female canaries. We systemically treat adult female canaries with testosterone and record premotor activity in the birds’ vocal control system during different stages of song development. This informs us about how neural activity changes in the vocal control system under the influence of sex hormones.