Vocal control region sizes of an adult female songbird change seasonally in the absence of detectable circulating testosterone concentrations

Pierre Deviche, Cynthia C. Gulledge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous research established that in several species of seasonally breeding oscine birds, brain areas [vocal control regions (VCRs)] that control vocal behavior learning and expression exhibit seasonal plasticity, being larger during than outside the reproductive period. In adult males, this seasonal decrease correlates with circulating testosterone (T) concentrations. VCRs contain androgen receptors and T plays an important role in neural plasticity and in the control of singing behavior. In behaviorally dimorphic species, VCRs are larger in males than females and change seasonally also in females, but the dependency of these changes on circulating T levels in females has not been established. In free-living adult dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis), a species in which females do not normally sing, the sizes of three VCRs (high vocal center, robust nucleus of the archistriatum, and Area X) were larger in males than females and decreased between summer and fall in both sexes. In males, this decrease was associated with changes in circulating T concentrations. Females, however, had on average undetectable T levels throughout the breeding season. Seasonal changes in VCR volumes in adult females may depend on very low (below detection limit) circulating T concentrations, on nonandrogenic plasma steroids, on androgen (or androgen metabolites) produced in brain tissues, and/or on nonsteroidal factors such as photoperiod or social interactions with conspecific birds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-211
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Volume42
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 31 2000

Keywords

  • Androgen
  • HVc
  • Junco
  • Plasticity
  • Sexual dimorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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