Altered perception of species-specific song by female birds after lesions of a forebrain nucleus

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Science  18 Jan 1991:
Vol. 251, Issue 4991, pp. 303-305
DOI: 10.1126/science.1987645


Female birds that do not normally sing possess brain nuclei associated with song production in males. To determine whether one song nucleus, the caudal nucleus of the ventral hyperstriatum (HVc), acts in conspecific song perception, courtship responses of female canaries to canary and white-crowned sparrow songs were compared before and after HVc lesions. Bilateral lesions of a portion of the HVc resulted in copulation solicitations to heterospecific song as well as conspecific song. Control females continued to respond only to conspecific song. This suggests that the HVc is critical for conspecific song perception in females. Because female canaries do not normally sing, neurons in female HVc must develop response selectivity by a mechanism different from that proposed for male birds in the motor theory of song perception.

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