Previous studies have found opioid peptide‐like immunoreactivity in avian vocal control regions, but whether these regions contain receptors for opioid peptides has not been examined. To address this question, we used quantitative in vitro autoradiography to determine the anatomical distribution and to measure the densities of μ, δ, and κ opioid receptors in vocal control regions (area X higher vocal center, and nucleus intercollicularis) of adult male dark‐eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis). To evaluate whether opioid receptor densities in these regions depend on the activity of the reproductive system, we also measured these densities in birds collected during the spring, summer, and fall. We found area X, the higher vocal center, and nucleus intercollicularis to contain the three receptor types under study, but opioid receptor densities did not vary seasonally in any of these regions. The presence of specific opioid receptors in avian vocal control regions suggests the participation of opioids in the control of vocal behavior. This participation may consist of short‐term (e. g., auditory processing) and/or long‐term (e. g., neuronal plasticity) influences. © 1995 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
- vocal behavior
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