In songbirds, testosterone (T) mediates seasonal changes in the sizes and neuroanatomical characteristics of brain regions that control singing (song control regions; SCRs). One model explaining the mechanisms of the growth of one SCR, the HVC, postulates that in the spring increasing photoperiod and circulating T concentrations enhance new neuron survival, thus increasing total neuron number. However, most research investigating the effects of T on new neuron survival has been done in autumn. The present study investigated the effects of photoperiod and T treatment on SCR growth and new neuron survival in the HVC in photosensitive adult male House Finches, Carpodacus mexicanus, under simulated spring-like conditions. Birds were castrated, given T-filled or empty Silastic capsules and maintained on short days (SD; 8L:16D) or long days (LD; 16L:8D). To mark new cells, birds received bromodeoxyuridine injections 11 days after experimental manipulations began and were sacrificed 28 days later. Testosterone treatment increased the sizes of two SCRs, the HVC and Robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA). Exposure to LD did not affect HVC volume, but did increase RA volume. Testosterone treatment increased the total number of HVC neurons, but did not affect the number of new HVC neurons. Thus, T initiates SCR growth and increases neuron survival, but effects of T on new neuron incorporation may be limited in photosensitive birds under spring-like conditions. These results provide new insight into the effects of photoperiod and T treatment on vernal SCR growth and new neuron incorporation and support current models explaining this growth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience