FY2013 Annual Report

FY2013 Annual Report


Like humans learning to speak, songbirds learn to sing from their auditory experience during a developmental critical period. In zebra finches, the best-studied model of songbird vocalization, males sing and females do not. Baby male zebra finches hear and memorize tutor songs, normally their fathers’ songs, during an early, sensory learning period. Then in a subsequent sensory-motor learning period, they rehearse by themselves and shape their own songs, by matching them to the memorized tutor songs, using auditory feedback. We are investigating how auditory experience during the juvenile learning period shapes brain circuitry that guides sensory shaping of vocal motor output. In addition, we are learning how auditory information is processed to distinguish conspecific songs and individual songs.

1. Staff

  • Dr. Yoko Yazaki-Sugiyama, Assistant Professor
  • Dr. Makoto Araki, Researcher
  • Dr. Christian Flecke, Researcher
  • Dr. Shin Yanagihara, Researcher
  • Dr. Yuichi Morohashi Technician
  • Mr. Mohamed Haytham Mohamed Aly (Graduate Student)
  • Ms. Sachiko Blank, Administrative Assistant

2. Collaborations (ongoing joint research collaborations)

1. Application of a viral vector system to the zebra finch song apparatus

      Collaboration with Prof. Michael Lazarus, Tsukuba University

3. Activities and Findings

1. Auditory memory formation during the developmental critical period in zebra finches.

2. Cortical auditory information processing in zebra finches.

4. Publications

4.1 Journal articles

  1. Toyoizumi, T., Miyamoto, H., Yazaki-Sugiyama, Y., Atapour, N., Hensch, T.K. and Miller, K.D. (2013) A theory of the transition to critical period plasticity: inhibition selectivity suppresses spontaneous activity. Neuron 80: 51-63

4.2 Books and other one-time publications

Book Chapters

 1. Neuroethology Dictionary (行動動物学辞典) 東京化学同人 2013

4.3 Oral and Poster Presentations

  1. Flecke, C. & Yazaki-Sugiyama, Y. Sensory memory forms in the auditory-associated cortical area in zebra finch song learning. Japanese Neuroscience Meeting (Neuro2013), June 2013, Kyoto
  2. Yazaki-Sugiyama Y. & Y., Yanagihara, S., Fuller P.M. & Lazarus, M. Syllable-to-syllable acoustic control by neuronal activity of pre-motor brain area in zebra finches revealed by reversible neuronal inhibition through virus-mediated expression of ivermectin-gated chloride channels. The 43rd Annual Meeting of Society for Neuroscience, Nov 2013, San Diego, USA

5 Intellectual Property Rights and Other Specific Achievements

5.1 Patent


5.2 Grant

1. ‘Neuronal mechanism song learning critical period’

Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) (Kakenhi)

6. Organized events (symposia/workshop) and meetings

6.1 Workshop

  1. DNC2013: OIST Developmental Neurobiology Course, July 16-31, 2013 , OIST Seaside House