Jelena Katic, How Social Interactions Affect Attention and Song Perception in Juvenile Zebra Finches During Song Learning
Speaker: Jelena Katic, Neuronal Mechanism for Critical Period (Yazaki-Sugiyama) Unit
Title: How social interactions affect attention and song perception in juvenile zebra finches during song learning
Abstract: Juvenile male zebra finches learn to sing via vocal communications with their adult tutors. Song learning improves through social interactions with tutors, compared to passive listening to recorded tutor song playbacks. This suggests that high attention level, induced by social interactions with tutors, enhances song learning. Here we investigated whether social interactions change attention level and how that change affects song learning by recording neuronal activity in the attention control area of the brain, the nucleus locus coeruleus (LC), and in the higher auditory area, the caudomedial nidopallium (NCM), where tutor song memories are thought to be stored. We chronically recorded extracellular single-unit activity from LC or NCM neurons of freely behaving juvenile zebra finches before and during social interaction with the tutor, and compared neuronal responses to recorded tutor song playbacks with responses to live tutor singing. LC and NCM responded twice as intensely to live tutor singing as to tutor song playbacks, and exhibited greater responses to tutor song playbacks after hearing hours of live tutor singing. Anatomical analysis showed that LC neurons, which were activated by exposure to live tutor singing, project to the NCM. To further understand how LC neurons regulate NCM auditory activities, we optogenetically manipulated activities of LC neurons while recording the NCM neuronal activity. Taken together, we suggest that social interactions with tutors modulate neuronal activity of the LC, which affects selective auditory responses of NCM neurons, resulting in tutor song memory formation.