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A higher sensory brain region is involved in reversing reinforcement-induced vocal changes in a songbird - Zurich Open Repository and Archive


Canopoli, A; Herbst, J A (2014). A higher sensory brain region is involved in reversing reinforcement-induced vocal changes in a songbird. Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology and Economics, 20(34):7018-7026.

Abstract

Many animals exhibit flexible behaviors that they can adjust to increase reward or avoid harm (learning by positive or aversive reinforcement). But what neural mechanisms allow them to restore their original behavior (motor program) after reinforcement is withdrawn? One possibility is that motor restoration relies on brain areas that have a role in memorization but no role in either motor production or in sensory processing relevant for expressing the behavior and its refinement. We investigated the role of a higher auditory brain area in the songbird for modifying and restoring the stereotyped adult song. We exposed zebra finches to aversively reinforcing white noise stimuli contingent on the pitch of one of their stereotyped song syllables. In response, birds significantly changed the pitch of that syllable to avoid the aversive reinforcer. After we withdrew reinforcement, birds recovered their original song within a few days. However, we found that large bilateral lesions in the caudal medial nidopallium (NCM, a high auditory area) impaired recovery of the original pitch even several weeks after withdrawal of the reinforcing stimuli. Because NCM lesions spared both successful noise-avoidance behavior and birds' auditory discrimination ability, our results show that NCM is not needed for directed motor changes or for auditory discriminative processing, but is implied in memorizing or recalling the memory of the recent song target.

Abstract

Many animals exhibit flexible behaviors that they can adjust to increase reward or avoid harm (learning by positive or aversive reinforcement). But what neural mechanisms allow them to restore their original behavior (motor program) after reinforcement is withdrawn? One possibility is that motor restoration relies on brain areas that have a role in memorization but no role in either motor production or in sensory processing relevant for expressing the behavior and its refinement. We investigated the role of a higher auditory brain area in the songbird for modifying and restoring the stereotyped adult song. We exposed zebra finches to aversively reinforcing white noise stimuli contingent on the pitch of one of their stereotyped song syllables. In response, birds significantly changed the pitch of that syllable to avoid the aversive reinforcer. After we withdrew reinforcement, birds recovered their original song within a few days. However, we found that large bilateral lesions in the caudal medial nidopallium (NCM, a high auditory area) impaired recovery of the original pitch even several weeks after withdrawal of the reinforcing stimuli. Because NCM lesions spared both successful noise-avoidance behavior and birds' auditory discrimination ability, our results show that NCM is not needed for directed motor changes or for auditory discriminative processing, but is implied in memorizing or recalling the memory of the recent song target.

Citations

6 citations in Web of Science®
9 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Neuroinformatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:23 Feb 2015 16:17
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:00
Publisher:American Psychological Association
Series Name:Journal of Neuroscience
Number of Pages:9
ISSN:1937-321X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0266-14.2014

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