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At the interface of the auditory and vocal motor systems: NIf and its role in vocal processing, production and learning


Lewandowski, Brian; Vyssotski, Alexei; Hahnloser, Richard H R; Schmidt, Marc (2013). At the interface of the auditory and vocal motor systems: NIf and its role in vocal processing, production and learning. Journal of Physiology, Paris, 107(3):178-192.

Abstract

Communication between auditory and vocal motor nuclei is essential for vocal learning. In songbirds, the nucleus interfacialis of the nidopallium (NIf) is part of a sensorimotor loop, along with auditory nucleus avalanche (Av) and song system nucleus HVC, that links the auditory and song systems. Most of the auditory information comes through this sensorimotor loop, with the projection from NIf to HVC representing the largest single source of auditory information to the song system. In addition to providing the majority of HVC's auditory input, NIf is also the primary driver of spontaneous activity and premotor-like bursting during sleep in HVC. Like HVC and RA, two nuclei critical for song learning and production, NIf exhibits behavioral-state dependent auditory responses and strong motor bursts that precede song output. NIf also exhibits extended periods of fast gamma oscillations following vocal production. Based on the converging evidence from studies of physiology and functional connectivity it would be reasonable to expect NIf to play an important role in the learning, maintenance, and production of song. Surprisingly, however, lesions of NIf in adult zebra finches have no effect on song production or maintenance. Only the plastic song produced by juvenile zebra finches during the sensorimotor phase of song learning is affected by NIf lesions. In this review, we carefully examine what is known about NIf at the anatomical, physiological, and behavioral levels. We reexamine conclusions drawn from previous studies in the light of our current understanding of the song system, and establish what can be said with certainty about NIf's involvement in song learning, maintenance, and production. Finally, we review recent theories of song learning integrating possible roles for NIf within these frameworks and suggest possible parallels between NIf and sensorimotor areas that form part of the neural circuitry for speech processing in humans.

Abstract

Communication between auditory and vocal motor nuclei is essential for vocal learning. In songbirds, the nucleus interfacialis of the nidopallium (NIf) is part of a sensorimotor loop, along with auditory nucleus avalanche (Av) and song system nucleus HVC, that links the auditory and song systems. Most of the auditory information comes through this sensorimotor loop, with the projection from NIf to HVC representing the largest single source of auditory information to the song system. In addition to providing the majority of HVC's auditory input, NIf is also the primary driver of spontaneous activity and premotor-like bursting during sleep in HVC. Like HVC and RA, two nuclei critical for song learning and production, NIf exhibits behavioral-state dependent auditory responses and strong motor bursts that precede song output. NIf also exhibits extended periods of fast gamma oscillations following vocal production. Based on the converging evidence from studies of physiology and functional connectivity it would be reasonable to expect NIf to play an important role in the learning, maintenance, and production of song. Surprisingly, however, lesions of NIf in adult zebra finches have no effect on song production or maintenance. Only the plastic song produced by juvenile zebra finches during the sensorimotor phase of song learning is affected by NIf lesions. In this review, we carefully examine what is known about NIf at the anatomical, physiological, and behavioral levels. We reexamine conclusions drawn from previous studies in the light of our current understanding of the song system, and establish what can be said with certainty about NIf's involvement in song learning, maintenance, and production. Finally, we review recent theories of song learning integrating possible roles for NIf within these frameworks and suggest possible parallels between NIf and sensorimotor areas that form part of the neural circuitry for speech processing in humans.

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14 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:2013
Deposited On:13 Feb 2014 13:37
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 03:24
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0928-4257
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jphysparis.2013.04.001
PubMed ID:23603062

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