Sarah W Bottjer

Sarah W Bottjer
University of Southern California | USC · Division of Neurobiology

Ph.D.

About

83
Publications
3,481
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4,999
Citations
Citations since 2017
4 Research Items
695 Citations
2017201820192020202120222023050100150
2017201820192020202120222023050100150
2017201820192020202120222023050100150
2017201820192020202120222023050100150
Additional affiliations
September 1986 - present
University of Southern California
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (83)
Article
Full-text available
Vocal learning in songbirds is mediated by a highly localized system of interconnected forebrain regions, including recurrent loops that traverse the cortex, basal ganglia, and thalamus. This brain-behavior system provides a powerful model for elucidating mechanisms of vocal learning, with implications for learning speech in human infants, as well...
Preprint
Full-text available
Vocal learning in songbirds is mediated by a highly localized system of interconnected forebrain regions, including recurrent loops that traverse the cortex, basal ganglia, and thalamus. This brain-behavior system provides a powerful model for elucidating mechanisms of vocal learning, with implications for learning speech in human infants, as well...
Article
A region within songbird cortex, dorsal intermediate arcopallium (AId), is functionally analogous to motor cortex in mammals and has been implicated in song learning during development. Non-vocal factors such as visual and social cues are known to mediate song learning and performance, yet previous chronic-recording studies of regions important for...
Preprint
Full-text available
A region within songbird cortex, AId (dorsal intermediate arcopallium), is functionally analogous to motor cortex in mammals and has been implicated in vocal learning during development. AId thus serves as a powerful model for investigating motor cortical contributions to developmental skill learning. We made extracellular recordings in AId of free...
Article
Like humans, songbirds learn vocal sounds from "tutors" during a sensitive period of development. Vocal learning in songbirds therefore provides a powerful model system for investigating neural mechanisms by which memories of learned vocal sounds are stored. This study examined whether NCM (caudo-medial nidopallium), a region of higher-level audito...
Article
Vocal learning in songbirds, like speech acquisition in humans, entails a period of sensorimotor integration during which vocalizations are evaluated via auditory feedback and progressively refined to achieve an imitation of memorized vocal sounds. This process requires the brain to compare feedback of current vocal behavior to a memory of target v...
Article
Full-text available
Songbirds are one of the few groups of animals that learn the sounds used for vocal communication during development. Like humans, songbirds memorize vocal sounds based on auditory experience with vocalizations of adult "tutors", and then use auditory feedback of self-produced vocalizations to gradually match their motor output to the memory of tut...
Data
NCM activity during the habituation phase in an adult bird. Top: raw traces of multi-unit activity in NCM (caudo-medial nidopallium, an area of higher-level auditory cortex) during the first presentation of a long call with a fundamental frequency of 650 Hz (left) and the last (30th) presentation of that stimulus (right). PSTHs show the multi-unit...
Data
Characteristics of Long Calls in Zebra Finches. Top: Frequency versus time spectrograms showing examples of a natural (left) and a synthetic (right) female long call, each with a fundamental frequency (FF) of 550 Hz. Bottom: distribution of the fundamental frequency of long calls from 19 adult males and 28 adult females recorded from our breeding p...
Data
Call-back behavior of male birds varies as a function of age but not as a function of call frequency. Total number of long calls (mean+SEM) given by three different age groups of birds in response to 20 repetitions each of a natural male call, a natural female call, and synthetic calls with fundamental frequencies ranging from 450 to 950 Hz. Means...
Data
Number of trials to reach behavioral criterion and number of call-back responses during the habituation phase showed some effects of age. Left panels: 20-day birds tended to require a larger number of stimulus presentations to reach criterion for the 480-Hz habituation stimulus while adult birds tended to require a larger number of 650-Hz call pres...
Data
Initial response strength in NCM does not vary as a function of call frequency or age. A: Response strength (mean ± SEM) recorded in NCM (caudo-medial nidopallium) in response to the three synthetic calls used as habituating stimuli; these birds were tested for dishabituation immediately after this habituation phase. As shown in previous studies th...
Article
Only birds that learn complex vocalizations have telencephalic brain regions that control vocal learning and production, including HVC (high vocal center), a cortical nucleus that encodes vocal motor output in adult songbirds. HVC projects to RA (robust nucleus of the arcopallium), a nucleus in motor cortex that in turn projects topographically ont...
Article
Full-text available
Learned behaviors require coordination of diverse sensory inputs with motivational and motor systems. Although mechanisms underlying vocal learning in songbirds have focused primarily on auditory inputs, it is likely that sensory inputs from vocal effectors also provide essential feedback. We investigated the role of somatosensory and respiratory i...
Article
Experience-dependent changes in neural connectivity underlie developmental learning and result in life-long changes in behavior. In songbirds axons from the cortical region LMAN(core) (core region of lateral magnocellular nucleus of anterior nidopallium) convey the output of a basal ganglia circuit necessary for song learning to vocal motor cortex...
Article
Full-text available
The cortical nucleus LMAN (lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium) provides the output of a basal ganglia pathway that is necessary for acquisition of learned vocal behavior during development in songbirds. LMAN is composed of two subregions, a core and a surrounding shell, that give rise to independent pathways that traverse the...
Article
Full-text available
The cortical nucleus LMAN (lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium) provides the output of a basal ganglia pathway that is necessary for vocal learning in juvenile songbirds. The shell subregion of LMAN (LMAN(shell)) gives rise to recurrent loops that may subserve specific learning-related functions. We found that lesions in the L...
Article
Developmental changes in synaptic properties may act to limit neural and behavioral plasticity associated with sensitive periods. This study characterized synaptic maturation in a glutamatergic thalamo-cortical pathway that is necessary for vocal learning in songbirds. Lesions of the projection from medial dorsolateral nucleus of the thalamus (DLM)...
Article
When is an inhibitory synapse not inhibitory? In this issue of Neuron, Person and Perkel demonstrate that thalamic neurons can translate extrinsic GABAergic input from the basal ganglia into highly precise patterns of sustained spiking in a circuit that is essential for vocal learning in songbirds. Postinhibitory rebound serves as a mechanism that...
Article
Localized regions of increased cellular proliferation within the ventricular zone (VZ) of juvenile male songbirds may contain progenitor cells that give rise to song-control neurons and, thereby, contribute to the construction of brain areas important for song learning. The purpose of this study was to examine levels of cell division throughout the...
Article
A hallmark of sensitive periods of development is an enhanced capacity for learning, such that experience exerts a profound effect on the brain resulting in the establishment of behaviors and underlying neural circuitry that can last a lifetime. Songbirds, like humans, have a sensitive period for vocal learning: they acquire the sounds used for voc...
Article
Full-text available
Zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) learn a specific song pattern during a sensitive period of development, after which song changes little or not at all. However, recent studies have demonstrated substantial behavioral plasticity in song behavior during adulthood under a range of conditions. The current experiment examined song behavior of adult z...
Article
Full-text available
Area X is a nucleus within songbird basal ganglia that is part of the anterior forebrain song learning circuit. It receives cortical song-related input and projects to the dorsolateral medial nucleus of thalamus (DLM). We carried out single- and double-labeled immunohistochemical and pathway tracing studies in male zebra finch to characterize the c...
Article
Precise patterns of neural connectivity and synaptic communication are modified by experience during restricted "sensitive" periods of development, and the circuitry and associated behaviors that emerge during such periods are frequently preserved throughout the lifespan. In many neural systems, the expression of various molecules that influence sy...
Article
Brain regions associated with song learning in zebra finches are larger and contain more neurons in males than females. Differences in cell proliferation, migration, survival, and specification may all contribute to the divergent development of the song-control system in developing birds. This study quantified levels of cell proliferation within th...
Article
Individual axon arbors within developing neural circuits are remodeled during restricted sensitive periods, leading to the emergence of precise patterns of connectivity and specialized adaptive behaviors. In male zebra finches, the circuit connecting the medial dorsolateral nucleus of the thalamus (DLM) and its cortical target, the lateral magnocel...
Article
Full-text available
The initial establishment of topographic mapping within developing neural circuits is thought to be shaped by innate mechanisms and is primarily independent of experience. Additional refinement within topographic maps leads to precise matching between presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons and is thought to depend on experiential factors during speci...
Article
Recent studies have provided important information concerning the neural signals that subserve vocal learning in songbirds: advanced signal processing techniques are beginning to clarify the behavioral trajectories followed by developing birds; single-unit physiology in behaving animals is providing important clues about sensory and motor represent...
Article
Male zebra finches learn to sing during a restricted phase of juvenile development. Song learning is characterized by the progressive modification of unstable song vocalizations by juvenile birds during development, a process that leads to the production of stereotyped vocal patterns as birds reach adulthood. The medial magnocellular nucleus of the...
Article
The lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior neostriatum (lMAN) is necessary for both initial learning of vocal patterns in developing zebra finches, as well as for modification of adult song under some circumstances. Lateral MAN is composed of two subregions: a core of magnocellular neurons and a surrounding shell composed primarily of parvoc...
Article
Full-text available
Refinement of topographic maps during sensitive periods of development is a characteristic feature of diverse sensory and motor circuits in the nervous system. Within the neural system that controls vocal learning and behavior in zebra finches, axonal connections of the cortical nucleus lMAN demonstrate striking functional and morphological changes...
Article
A common theme of diverse neural systems is that circuits that are important for initial acquisition of learning do not necessarily serve as a substrate for the long-term storage of that memory. The neural basis of vocal learning in songbirds provides an example of this phenomenon, since a circuit that is necessary for vocal production during initi...
Article
A common theme of diverse neural systems is that circuits that are important for initial acquisition of learning do not necessarily serve as a substrate for the long-term storage of that memory. The neural basis of vocal learning in songbirds provides an example of this phenomenon, since a circuit that is necessary for vocal production during initi...
Article
Neuronal connections of the High Vocal Center (HVC), a cortical nucleus of songbirds necessary for learned vocal behavior, and the region adjacent to HVC called paraHVC (pHVC), were studied in adult and juvenile male zebra finches. Extremely small injections of fluorescent dextran amines or biocytin were made within subregions of HVC and pHVC to de...
Article
Species-typical vocal patterns subserve species identification and communication for individual organisms. Only a few groups of organisms learn the sounds used for vocal communication, including songbirds, humans, and cetaceans. Vocal learning in songbirds has come to serve as a model system for the study of brain-behavior relationships and neural...
Article
Development in animals is frequently characterized by periods of heightened capacity for both neural and behavioral change. So-called sensitive periods of development are windows of opportunity in which brain and behavior are most susceptible to modification. Understanding what factors regulate sensitive periods constitutes one of the main goals of...
Article
This study examined the distribution of the neuropeptides somatostatin (SS) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) in forebrain and midbrain song-control nuclei of male versus female brains in adult zebra finches (Poephila guttata) using immunohistochemical techniques. Vocal learning in songbirds is controlled by an interconnected, highly-local...
Article
The medial magnocellular nucleus of the anterior neostriatum (mMAN) is a small cortical nucleus which was previously identified as a component of the neural circuitry controlling vocal behavior in songbirds based on its efferent connection to the High Vocal Center (HVC), a major song control nucleus (Nottebohm et al. [1982] J. Comp. Neurol. 207:344...
Article
Full-text available
Studies of the developing nervous system led to the general view that growth factors promote neuronal survival in a "retrograde" manner. For example, release of NGF from postsynaptic peripheral targets followed by uptake and retrograde transport by presynaptic neurons provided a widely accepted conceptual framework for the action of neurotrophins....
Article
This study examined the distribution of the neuropeptides somatostatin (SS) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) in forebrain and midbrain song-control nuclei of male versus female brains in adult zebra finches (Poephila guttata) using immunohistochemical techniques. Vocal learning in songbirds is controlled by an interconnected, highly-local...
Article
The neural substrate underlying learned vocal behavior in songbirds provides a textbook illustration of anatomical localization of function for a complex learned behavior in vertebrates. The song-control system has become an important model for studying neural systems related to learning, behavior, and development. The song system of zebra finches...
Article
This study examined the distribution of the neuropeptides somatostatin (SS) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) in forebrain and midbrain song-control nuclei of male versus female brains in adult zebra finches (Poephila guttata) using immunohistochemical techniques. Vocal learning in songbirds is controlled by an interconnected, highly-local...
Article
A serial pathway from a thalamic nucleus (DLM; the medial portion of the dorsolateral nucleus of the anterior thalamus) to a cortical region (lMAN; the lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior neostriatum) to a motor-cortical region (RA; the robust nucleus of the archistriatum) is necessary for vocal production during song learning in juvenile...
Article
Full-text available
An interconnected series of brain nuclei controls song learning and behavior in male zebra finches (Poephila guttata). This study examined the distribution of fibers, terminals, and somata immunoreactive for two neuropeptides, methionine-enkephalin (ENK) and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), in song-control nuclei of adult males. In addition...
Article
An interconnected series of brain nuclei controls song learning and behavior in male zebra finches (Poephila guttata). This study examined the distribution of fibers, terminals, and somata immunoreactive for two neuropeptides, methionine-enkephalin (ENK) and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), in song-control nuclei of adult males. In addition...
Article
The higher vocal center (HVC) of adult male canaries undergoes a seasonal change in volume that corresponds to seasonal modifications of vocal behavior: HVC is large when birds produce stereotyped song (spring) and is small when birds produce plastic song and add new song syllables into their vocal repertoires (fall). We reported previously that sy...
Article
Full-text available
Forebrain nuclei that control learned vocal behavior in zebra finches are anatomically distinct and interconnected by a simple pattern of axonal pathways. In the present study, we examined afferent regulation of neuronal survival during development of the robust nucleus of the archistriatum (RA). RA projection neurons form the descending motor path...
Article
Full-text available
A discrete network of forebrain nuclei underlies vocal learning and production in male zebra finches. Three nuclei within this network form a neural pathway that is particularly important for vocal learning in juveniles: area X of the avian striatum projects to the medial dorsolateral nucleus of the anterior thalamus (DLM), which in turn projects t...
Article
Full-text available
Neurons generated in adulthood are found throughout the canary telencephalon. We are interested in the factors that control the rate of proliferation of stem cells that give rise to these new neurons. The rate of incorporation of newly generated neurons into vocal-control regions varies seasonally. This difference could reflect a higher rate of neu...
Article
Brain nuclei that control song are larger in male canaries, which sing, than in females, which sing rarely or not at all. Treatment of adult female canaries with testosterone (T) induces song production and causes song-control nuclei to grow, approaching the volumes observed in males. For example, the higher vocal center (HVC) of adult females appr...
Article
Male canaries revise their vocal repertoire every year. Early work indicated that the volume and neuron number of the song-control nucleus HVC (Higher Vocal Center) declined in late-summer/fall as birds added and deleted syllables from their repertoire, and increased in spring as the set of song syllables stabilized to a fixed number. Seasonal vari...
Article
A system of brain nuclei controls song learning and behavior in zebra finches (Poephila guttata). The size of song-control nuclei are much larger in males, which sing, than in females, which do not sing. This study examined the distribution of fibers, terminals, and cell bodies that are immunoreactive for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) (the rate-limitin...
Article
A serial forebrain pathway in the songbird brain plays a critical role in vocal learning; Area X of the parolfactory lobe (X) projects to the medial portion of the dorsolateral nucleus of the anterior thalamus (DLM), which in turn projects to the lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior neostriatum (IMAN). Lesions of this pathway in juvenile b...
Article
Male zebra finches learn a specific vocal pattern during a restricted period of development. They produce that song in stereotyped form throughout adulthood, and are unable to learn new song patterns. Development of the neural substrate for song learning and behavior is delayed relative to other brain regions, and neural song-control circuits under...
Article
Both song behavior and its neural substrate are hormone sensitive: castrated adult male zebra finches need replacement of gonadal steroids in order to restore normal levels of song production, and sex steroids are necessary to establish male-typical neural song-control circuits during early development. This pattern of results suggests that hormone...
Article
Many songbirds learn vocal sounds used to communicate with other members of their species during a restricted period of development. For example, male zebra finches (Poephila guttata) need to hear their father's song until approximately 40 days of age in order to learn to produce normal vocalizations. By the time they are fully adult (100 days of a...
Article
Full-text available
To study the effects of chronic exposure to testosterone on song behavior development, we administered various amounts of testosterone to juvenile male zebra finches during different periods of song acquisition. We report that testosterone exposure during development profoundly impairs song learning in juvenile males. The effects of the hormone do...
Article
Adult male canaries learn to produce high-amplitude complex courtship songs each breeding season, whereas females do not, and brain nuclei involved with the production of song behavior are much larger in breeding males than in nonbreeding males or females (Nottebohm, 1980, 1981). However, treatment of adult females with testosterone (T) causes them...
Article
Castration and replacement of gonadal steroids have been used extensively in order to examine the hormonal regulation of song and sexual behaviors in passerine birds. However, recent studies have reported that levels of gonadal hormones may remain high following castration. In order to circumvent this problem, adenohypophysectomy might be advantage...
Article
Using a double-labeling technique to characterize projection neurons and androgen target cells, we examined ontogenetic changes in the cellular composition of IMAN, a forebrain nucleus that plays an important role in song learning during a restricted period of male zebra finch development. This nucleus undergoes a massive loss of neurons during the...
Article
Lateral MAN (magnocellular nucleus of the anterior neostriatum) is a forebrain nucleus that is known to be importantly involved with vocal learning in juvenile male zebra finches only during a restricted period of the learning process: lesions of lMAN completely disrupt song behavior in zebra finches prior to 50 days of age but have little or no ef...
Article
Connections of a telencephalic vocal-control nucleus, the lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior neostriatum (lMAN), were studied in adult male zebra finches. Anterograde transport of horseradish peroxidase (alone or conjugated to wheat germ agglutinin) revealed that neurons in lMAN project to another forebrain song-control nucleus, the robu...
Article
Treatment of adult female canaries with testosterone (T) causes them to produce male-typical vocalizations and results in striking growth of brain nuclei that control song behavior (Nottebohm, 1980). The song-control nucleus HVc (caudal nucleus of the ventral hyperstriatum) contains cells that concentrate testosterone or its metabolites, suggesting...
Article
The present study examines the development of androgen accumulation in cells of two brain nuclei that are involved in controlling vocal behavior in zebra finches (Poephila guttata). HVc (caudal nucleus of the ventral hyperstriatum) is involved with vocal production in adult birds, and MAN (magnocellular nucleus of the anterior neostriatum) is invol...
Article
Gonadal hormones can produce striking behavioral and neural plasticity in adult organisms. For example, systemic administration of testosterone to adult female canaries induces the development of male-typical song behavior and results in a striking increase in the size of brain nuclei that are known to be involved with song control. The mechanism w...
Article
The caudal nucleus of the ventral hyperstriatum (HVc) and the robust nucleus of the archistriatum (RA) are two anatomically discrete brain regions that are known to be involved with song production in adult passerine birds. Both the HVc and RA increase greatly in volume during a restricted period of song development in male zebra finches, while bra...
Article
Sex differences in the neural song system in oscine song birds develop in response to estradiol secreted during early periods of development. Estradiol produces sex differences in cell number and in the proportion of cells which are steroid targets. The pattern of development of these sex differences varies in different brain regions, suggesting th...
Chapter
Songbirds (order: Passeriformes; suborder: Oscines) are one of the few groups of animals that makes extensive use of vocal communication and learns the sounds used for such communication during the course of development. Careful experimental study of song behavior itself, starting with the classic work of Thorpe (1958), Konishi (1965), and Marler (...
Article
Full-text available
An anatomically discrete system of interconnected brain nuclei controls production of learned song patterns in adult male zebra finches (Poephila guttata). The corresponding nuclei in females, who do not sing, are greatly reduced in volume. Cells in some telencephalic song-control nuclei accumulate androgens, and male nuclei contain a much higher p...
Article
Full-text available
The stereotypical vocal patterns of adult male zebra finches (Poephila guttata) were examined before and after elimination of auditory feedback and/or feedback from the vocal organ (the syrinx). Elimination of auditory feedback was accomplished via bilateral removal of the cochleae, whereas feedback from the syrinx was eliminated by cutting hypoglo...
Article
The magnocellular nucleus of the anterior neostriatum is a forebrain nucleus of passerine birds that accumulates testosterone and makes monosynaptic connections with other telencephalic nuclei that control song production in adult birds. Lesions in the magnocellular nucleus disrupted song development in juvenile male zebra finches but did not affec...
Article
A traditional belief concerning the development of the nervous system has been that neural structures and/or networks do not, under normal circumstances, show significant changes in adulthood. Once the development of a particular nucleus within the CNS is complete, that nucleus is assumed to remain relatively constant in terms of overall volume, in...
Article
The volumes of brain regions involved in vocal control were measured in adult male and female white-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys nuttali) captured in the summer, and in captive males held on long-day or short-day photoperiods. There is a large sex difference in the volume of two nuclei, the caudal nucleus of the hyperstriatum ventrale (...
Article
Hypoglossal efferent fibers are known to innervate the vocal organ (syrinx) in songbirds. In order to determine the existence of afferent fibers from the syrinx in the zebra finch, horseradish peroxidase (HRP) was applied to the cut peripheral branch of the hypoglossal nerve that innervates the left side of the syrinx. Cell bodies in the ganglion o...
Article
Three experiments examined the effects of complete removal of reinforcement and of the introduction of a novel stimulus on conditioned approach and withdrawal behavior exhibited by pigeons in an autoshaping paradigm. Experiment 1 indicated that complete omission of food from the experimental situation resulted in the gradual disappearance of both a...
Article
Full-text available
Three experiments investigated the learning and memory of discriminations based on presence versus absence of a pre-trial food delivery. In Experiment 1 half the illuminations of a response key were followed by food regardless of the subject's behavior. In one group an extra food delivery preceded only reinforced trials (feature-positive condition)...
Article
Full-text available
Two experiments with goldfish were performed to investigate the role of stimulus-reinforcer vs. response-reinforcer relationships in omission training and the role of stimulus localizability in a positive behavioral contrast paradigm. The directed behavior of fish, like that of pigeons and rats in other studies, was greatly influenced by positive s...
Article
Thesis--Indiana University. Vita. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 139-146).

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