A brain for all seasons: cyclical anatomical changes in song control nuclei of the canary brain

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Science  18 Dec 1981:
Vol. 214, Issue 4527, pp. 1368-1370
DOI: 10.1126/science.7313697


Male canaries that have reached sexual maturity can, in subsequent years, learn new song repertoires. Two telencephalic song control nuclei, the hyperstriatum ventrale, pars caudale, and nucleus robustus archistriatalis are, respectively, 99 and 76 percent larger in the spring, when male canaries are producing stable adult song, than in the fall, at the end of the molt and after several months of not singing. It is hypothesized that such fluctuations reflect an increase and then reduction in numbers of synapses and are related to the yearly ability to acquire new motor coordinations.