Differential developmental changes in cortical representations of auditory-vocal stimuli in songbirds.

Abstract:

:Procedural skill learning requires iterative comparisons between feedback of self-generated motor output and a goal sensorimotor pattern. In juvenile songbirds, neural representations of both self-generated behaviors (each bird's own immature song) and the goal motor pattern (each bird's adult tutor song) are essential for vocal learning, yet little is known about how these behaviorally relevant stimuli are encoded. We made extracellular recordings during song playback in anesthetized juvenile and adult zebra finches ( Taeniopygia guttata) in adjacent cortical regions RA (robust nucleus of the arcopallium), AId (dorsal intermediate arcopallium), and RA cup, each of which is well situated to integrate auditory-vocal information: RA is a motor cortical region that drives vocal output, AId is an adjoining cortical region whose projections converge with basal ganglia loops for song learning in the dorsal thalamus, and RA cup surrounds RA and receives inputs from primary and secondary auditory cortex. We found strong developmental differences in neural selectivity within RA, but not in AId or RA cup. Juvenile RA neurons were broadly responsive to multiple songs but preferred juvenile over adult vocal sounds; in addition, spiking responses lacked consistent temporal patterning. By adulthood, RA neurons responded most strongly to each bird's own song with precisely timed spiking activity. In contrast, we observed a complete lack of song responsivity in both juvenile and adult AId, even though this region receives song-responsive inputs. A surprisingly large proportion of sites in RA cup of both juveniles and adults did not respond to song playback, and responsive sites showed little evidence of song selectivity. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Motor skill learning entails changes in selectivity for behaviorally relevant stimuli across cortical regions, yet the neural representation of these stimuli remains understudied. We investigated how information important for vocal learning in zebra finches is represented in regions analogous to infragranular layers of motor and auditory cortices during vs. after the developmentally regulated learning period. The results provide insight into how neurons in higher level stages of cortical processing represent stimuli important for motor skill learning.

journal_name

J Neurophysiol

authors

Yuan RC,Bottjer SW

doi

10.1152/jn.00714.2018

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

2019-02-01 00:00:00

pages

530-548

issue

2

eissn

0022-3077

issn

1522-1598

journal_volume

121

pub_type

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