Male zebra finches produce a song consisting of a canonical sequence of syllables, learned from a tutor and repeated throughout its adult life. Much of the neural circuitry responsible for this behavior is located in the cortical premotor region HVC (acronym is name). In a recent study from our lab, we found that partial bilateral ablation of the medial portion of HVC has effects on the song that are qualitatively different from those of bilateral ablation of the lateral portion. In this report we describe a neural network organization that can explain these data, and in so doing suggests key roles for other brain nuclei in the production of song. We also suggest that syllables and the gaps between them are each coded separately by neural chains within HVC, and that the timing mechanisms for syllables and gaps are distinct. The design principles underlying this model assign distinct roles for medial and lateral HVC circuitry that explain the data on medial and lateral ablations. In addition, despite the fact that the neural coding of song sequence is distributed among several brain nuclei in our model, it accounts for data showing that cooling of HVC stretches syllables uniformly and to a greater extent than gaps. Finally, the model made unanticipated predictions about details of the effects of medial and lateral HVC ablations that were then confirmed by reanalysis of these previously acquired behavioral data.
- computational model
- zebra finch
- neural network
- Copyright © 2016, Journal of Neurophysiology