Arginine vasotocin (AVT) and its mammalian homologue, arginine vasopressin (AVP), regulate a variety of social and reproductive behaviors, often with complex species-, sex-, and context-dependent effects. Despite extensive evidence documenting seasonal variation in brain AVT/AVP, relatively few studies have investigated the environmental and/or hormonal factors mediating these seasonal changes. In the present study, we investigated whether the pineal hormone melatonin alters brain AVT immunoreactivity in green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea). Reproductively active male and female frogs were collected during the summer breeding season and a melatonin-filled or blank silastic capsule was surgically implanted subcutaneously. The duration of hormone treatment was 4 weeks, at which time frogs were euthanized and the brains and blood collected and processed for AVT immunohistochemistry and steroid hormone assay. We quantified AVT-immunoreactive (AVT-ir) cell bodies in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), caudal striatum and amygdala (AMG), anterior preoptic area (POA), suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), and infundibular region of the ventral hypothalamus (VH). Sex differences in AVT-ir cell number were observed in all brain regions except the anterior POA and VH, with males having more AVT-ir cells than females in the NAcc, AMG, and SCN. Brain AVT was sensitive to melatonin signaling during the breeding season, and the effects of melatonin varied significantly with both region and sex. Treatment with melatonin decreased AVT immunoreactivity in both the NAcc and SCN in male H. cinerea. In contrast, brain AVT was relatively insensitive to melatonin signaling in females, indicating that the regulation of the AVT/AVP neuropeptide system by melatonin may be sexually dimorphic. Finally, melatonin did not significantly influence testosterone or estradiol concentrations of male or female frogs, respectively, suggesting that the effects of melatonin on AVT immunoreactivity are independent of changes in gonadal sex steroid hormones. Collectively, our results indicate that the AVT/AVP neuronal system may be an important target for melatonin in facilitating seasonal changes in reproductive physiology and social behavior.
Melatonin; Arginine vasotocin; Immunoreactivity; Testosterone; Estradiol; Sex differences; Amphibian
Vesicular glutamate transporters reuptake glutamate into synaptic vesicles at excitatory synapses. Vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (VGLUT2) is localized in the cortical terminals of neuronal somas located in the main sensory nuclei of the thalamus. Thus, immunolabeling of cortex with antibodies to VGLUT2 can reveal geniculostriate terminal distributions in species in which connectivity cannot be studied with tract-tracing techniques, permitting broader comparative studies of cortical specializations. Here, we used VGLUT2 immunohistochemistry to compare the organization of geniculostriate afferents in primary visual cortex in hominid primates (humans, chimpanzees, orangutan), Old World monkeys (rhesus macaques, vervets), and New World monkeys (squirrel monkeys). The New World and Old World monkeys had a broad, dense band of terminal-like labeling in cortical layer 4C, a narrow band of labeling in layer 4A, and additional labeling in layers 2/3 and 6, consistent with results from conventional tract-tracing studies in these species. By contrast, although the hominid primates had a prominent layer 4C band, labeling of layer 4A was sparse or absent. Label was also present in layers 2/3 and 6, although labeling of layer 6 in hominids was weaker and possibly more individually variable than in Old World and New World monkeys. These findings are consistent with previous observations from cytochrome oxidase histochemistry and a very small number of connectivity studies, suggesting that the projection from the parvocellular layers of the lateral geniculate nucleus to layer 4A were strongly reduced or eliminated in humans and apes following their evolutionary divergence from the other anthropoid primates.
Vesicular glutamate transporter; Area 17; Primary visual cortex; Architectonics; Primate; Human; Blobs; Evolution; Chimpanzees
Short-tailed opossums (Monodelphis domestica) belong to the branch of marsupial mammals that diverged from eutherian mammals approximately 180 million years ago. They are small in size, lack a marsupial pouch, and may have retained more morphological characteristics of early marsupial neocortex than most other marsupials. In the present study, we used several different histochemical and immunochemical procedures to reveal the architectonic characteristics of cortical areas in short-tailed opossums. Subdivisions of cortex were identified in brain sections cut in the coronal, sagittal, horizontal or tangential planes and processed for a calcium-binding protein, parvalbumin (PV), neurofilament protein epitopes recognized by SMI-32, the vesicle glutamate transporter 2 (VGluT2), myelin, cytochrome oxidase (CO), and Nissl substance. These different procedures revealed similar boundaries among areas, suggesting that functionally relevant borders were detected. The results allowed a fuller description and more precise demarcation of previously identified sensory areas, and the delineation of additional subdivisions of cortex. Area 17 (V1) was especially prominent, with a densely populated layer 4, high myelination levels, and dark staining of PV and VGluT2 immunopositive terminations. These architectonic features were present, albeit less pronounced, in somatosensory and auditory cortex. The major findings support the conclusion that short-tailed opossums have fewer cortical areas and their neocortex is less distinctly laminated than most other mammals.
Marsupial; Cortical areas; Visual cortex; Frontal cortex; Somatosensory cortex; Auditory cortex; Retrosplenial cortex; Cingulate cortex
The physiological state of animals in many taxonomic groups can be modified via social interactions, including simply receiving communication signals from conspecifics. Here, we explore whether the catecholaminergic system of female songbirds responds during social interactions that are limited to song reception. We measured the protein product of an immediate early gene (ZENK) within three catecholaminergic brain regions in song-exposed (N = 11) and silent-exposed (N = 6) female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). ZENK-ir induction was quantified in catecholamine cells as well as within cells of unknown phenotypes in three brain regions that synthesize catecholamines, the ventral tegmental area (VTA), the periaqueductal gray (PAG) and the locus coeruleus (LoC). Our results reveal that there are no significant differences in the overall number of cells expressing ZENK between song-exposed and silent-exposed females. However, when we limited our measurements to catecholamine-containing cells, we show a greater number of catecholamine-containing cells expressing ZENK within the LoC in the song-exposed females as compared to silent-exposed females. Furthermore, we measured five behaviors during the song and silent-exposed period, as behavioral differences between these groups may account for differences in the co-induction of ZENK and TH-ir. Our results reveal that there were no statistically significant differences in the five measured behaviors between song and silent-exposed females. Our study demonstrates that noradrenergic cells within the LoC are involved in the neural architecture underlying sound perception and that cells within the catecholaminergic system are modulated by social interactions, particularly the reception of signals used in animal communication.
Noradrenaline; Catecholamine; Immediate Early Gene; Animal Communication; Songbird; dopamine; communication
Evidence has accumulated that the regulation of male sexual behavior by dopamine may not be the same in Japanese quail (and perhaps all birds) as it is in mammals. For example, the non-selective dopamine receptor agonist, apomorphine (APO) facilitates male sexual behavior in rats but inhibits it in quail. Although the general organization of the dopamine system is similar in birds and mammals, it is possible that the relative distribution and/or density of binding sites is different. We therefore compared the relative densities of D1-like and D2-like receptor subtypes in Japanese quail and rats, with the use of in vitro quantitative receptor autoradiography. Brain sections from 8 male rats and 8 male quail were labeled with [3H]SCH-23390 and [3H]Spiperone. In general we found a systematic species difference in the relative density of D1-like vs. D2-like receptors such that the D2/D1 ratio is higher in quail than in rats in areas well known to be important target sites for dopamine action such as striatal regions. We also uncovered significant differences in the relative density of D1-like and D2-like receptors in brain areas associated with sexual behavior, including the preoptic area, such that there was a greater D2/D1 ratio in quail as compared to rats. This difference may explain the variation in the behavioral effectiveness of APO in rats as compared to quail; with a higher relative density of D2-like receptors in quail, a similar dose of APO would be more likely to activate inhibitory processes in quail than in rats.
dopamine; autoradiography; apomorphine; male sexual behavior; bird
This paper reviews some of the major evidence and arguments currently available to support the view that human speech perception may require the use of specialized neural mechanisms for perceptual analysis. Experiments using synthetically produced speech signals with adults are briefly summarized and extensions of these results to infants and other organisms are reviewed with an emphasis towards detailing those aspects of speech perception that may require some need for specialized species-specific processors. Finally, some comments on the role of early experience in perceptual development are provided as an attempt to identify promising areas of new research in speech perception.
Speech perception; Synthetic speech; Identification; Discrimination; Species-specific acoustic signals; Perceptual development; Feature detectors; Perceptual constancy; Speech mode
Increases in the size of the neuronal structures that mediate specific behaviors are believed to be related to enhanced computational performance. It is not clear, however, what developmental and evolutionary mechanisms mediate these changes, nor whether an increase in the size of a given neuronal population is a general mechanism to achieve enhanced computational ability. We addressed the issue of size by analyzing the variation in the relative number of cells of auditory structures in auditory specialists and generalists. We show that bird species with different auditory specializations exhibit variation in the relative size of their hindbrain auditory nuclei. In the barn owl, an auditory specialist, the hind-brain auditory nuclei involved in the computation of sound location show hyperplasia. This hyperplasia was also found in songbirds, but not in non-auditory specialists. The hyperplasia of auditory nuclei was also not seen in birds with large body weight suggesting that the total number of cells is selected for in auditory specialists. In barn owls, differences observed in the relative size of the auditory nuclei might be attributed to modifications in neurogenesis and cell death. Thus, hyperplasia of circuits used for auditory computation accompanies auditory specialization in different orders of birds.
Evolution; Auditory; Neuronal computation; Birds; Allometry
On the basis of patterns of anterograde, retrograde, and bi-directional transport of tracers from both the superior olivary nucleus (SON) and the torus semicircularis (TS), we report anatomical changes in brainstem connectivity across metamorphic development in the bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana. In early and late stages of larval development (Gosner stages 25–37), anterograde or bi-directional tracers injected into the SON produce terminal/fiber label in the contralateral SON and in the ipsilateral TS. Between stages 38–41 (deaf period), only sparse or no terminal/fiber label is visible in these target nuclei. During metamorphic climax (stages 42–46), terminal/fiber label reappears in both the contralateral SON and in the ipsilateral TS, and now also in the contralateral TS. Injections of retrograde tracers into the SON fail to label cell bodies in the ipsilateral TS in deaf period animals, mirroring the previously-reported failure of retrograde transport from the TS to the ipsilateral SON during this developmental time. Bilateral cell body label emerges in the dorsal medullary nucleus and the lateral vestibular nucleus bilaterally as a result of SON transport during the late larval period, while cell body label in the contralateral TS emerges during climax. At all larval stages, injections into the SON produce anterograde and retrograde label in the medial vestibular nucleus bilaterally. These data show anatomical stability in some pathways and plasticity in others during larval development, with the most dramatic changes occurring during the deaf period and metamorphic climax. Animals in metamorphic climax show patterns of connectivity similar to that of froglets and adults, indicating the maturation during climax of central anatomical substrates for hearing in air.
Tadpoles; Anurans; Vestibular nucleus complex; Dorsal medullary nucleus; Superior olivary complex; Torus semicircularis; Lipophilic dyes; PHA-L; Cholera toxin; Metamorphosis
Growth-associated protein-43 is typically expressed at high levels in the nervous system during development. In adult animals, its expression is lower, but still observable in brain areas showing structural or functional plasticity. We examined patterns of GAP-43 immunoreactivity in the brain of the bullfrog, an animal whose nervous system undergoes considerable reorganization across metamorphic development and retains a strong capacity for plasticity in adulthood. Immunolabeling was mostly diffuse in hatchling tadpoles, but became progressively more discrete as larval development proceeded. In many brain areas, intensity of immunolabel peaked at metamorphic climax, the time of final transition from aquatic to semi-terrestrial life. Changes in intensity of GAP-43 expression in the medial vestibular nucleus, superior olivary nucleus, and torus semicircularis appeared correlated with stage-dependent functional changes in processing auditory stimuli. Immunolabeling in the Purkinje cell layer of the cerebellum and in the cerebellar nucleus was detectable at most developmental time points. Heavy immunolabel was present from early larval stages through the end of climax in the thalamus (ventromedial, anterior, posterior, central nuclei). Immunolabel in the tadpole telencephalon was observed around the lateral ventricles, and in the medial septum and ventral striatum. In postmetamorphic animals, immunoreactivity was confined mainly to the ventricular zones and immediately adjacent cell layers. GAP-43 expression was present in olfactory, auditory and optic cranial nerves throughout larval and postmetamorphic life. The continued expression of GAP-43 in brain nuclei and in cranial nerves throughout development and into adulthood reflects the high regenerative potential of the bullfrog’s central nervous system.
Growth-associated protein 43; Plasticity; Metamorphosis; Bullfrog; Midbrain; Forebrain; Cranial nerves
The distribution of proliferating cells in the midbrain, thalamus, and telencephalon of adult bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) was examined using immunohistochemistry for the thymidine analog 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU) and DNA dot-blotting. At all time points examined (2 to 28 days post-injection), BrdU-labeled cells were located in ventricular zones at all levels of the neuraxis, but with relatively more label around the telencephalic ventricles. Labeled cells, some showing profiles indicative of dividing and migrating cells, were present in brain parenchyma from 7 to 28 days post-injection. These labeled cells were particularly numerous in the dorsal and ventral hypothalamus, preoptic area, optic tectum, and laminar and principal nuclei of the torus semicircularis, with label also present, but at qualitatively reduced levels, in thalamic and telencephalic nuclei. Double-label immunohistochemistry using glial and early neural markers indicated that gliogenesis and neurogenesis both occurred, with new neurons observed particularly in the hypothalamus, optic tectum, and torus semicircularis. In all brain areas, many cells not labeled with BrdU were nonetheless labeled with the early neural marker TOAD-64, indicating that these cells were postmitotic. Incorporation of DNA measured by dot-blotting confirms the presence of DNA synthesis in the forebrain and brainstem at all time points measured. The pattern of BrdU label confirms previous experiments based on labeling with 3H-thymidine and proliferating cell nuclear antigen showing cell proliferation in the adult ranid brain, particularly in hypothalamic nuclei. The consistent appearance of new cells in the hypothalamus of adult frogs suggests that proliferative activity may be important in mediating reproductive behaviors in these animals.
Cell proliferation; Neurogenesis; Gliogenesis; Amphibians; Bullfrog
This essay considers the ontogeny and phylogeny of the cranial neural circuitry producing rhythmic behaviors in vertebrates. These behaviors are characterized by predictable temporal patterns established by a neuronal network variously referred to as either a pacemaker, neural oscillator or central pattern generator. Comparative vertebrate studies have demonstrated that the embryonic hindbrain is divided into segmented compartments called rhombomeres, each of which gives rise to a distinct complement of cranial motoneurons and, as yet, unidentified populations of interneurons. We now propose that novel rhythmic circuits were innovations associated with the adoption of cardiac and respiratory pumps during the protochordate-vertebrate transition. We further suggest that the pattern-generating circuits of more recent innovations, such as the vocal, electromotor and extraocular systems, have originated from the same Hox gene-specified compartments of the embryonic hindbrain (rhombomeres 7–8) that gave rise to rhythmically active cardiac and respiratory circuits. Lastly, we propose that the capability for pattern generation by neurons originating from rhombomeres 7 and 8 is due to their electroresponsive properties producing pacemaker oscillations, as best typified by the inferior olive which also has origins from these same hindbrain compartments and has been suggested to establish rhythmic oscillations coupled to sensorimotor function throughout the neuraxis of vertebrates.
Rhombomeres; Hindbrain; Hox genes; Pacemaker; Oscillator; Vocalization; Electromotor; Oculomotor; Inferior olive; Cerebellum; Teleost
The neurohormone melatonin is an important signal for both time of day and time of year in many seasonally breeding animals. High densities of melatonin receptors have been found in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, median eminence, and the pituitary gland in almost all mammals investigated so far, and lower densities of melatonin receptors have also been localized to other brain regions varying in a species-specific fashion. Because species-specific differences in receptor distributions have been correlated with differences in behavior and ecology, a comparative study of how melatonin receptors are distributed in vertebrate brains can be useful to the understanding of the functional organization of neural circuits controlling daily and seasonal behaviors. In this study, we localized and characterized melatonin binding sites in the brain of the Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) using in vitro autoradiography with 2-[125I]iodomelatonin. Tadarida brasiliensis is a nocturnal insectivorous mammal that seasonally migrates, reproduces once a year, and exhibits documented sexual dimorphisms in seasonal reproductive behaviors, most notably in courtship vocalizations. Prominent 2-[125I]iodomelatonin binding was found in the median eminence, suprachiasmatic nuclei, and hippocampus, similar to that observed in other mammals. High densities of binding were also localized to structures of the basal ganglia, including the caudate nucleus, putamen, and nucleus accumbens, a feature commonly observed in songbirds but not in mammals. Saturation analysis indicated that the observed binding sites had an affinity for melatonin typical of the binding properties for the Mel1a receptor subtype. We conclude that melatonin receptor distributions in the Mexican free-tailed bat brain appear to show similarities with the reproductive and circadian systems of other mammals and the basal ganglia of songbirds.
Bats; Basal ganglia; Hippocampus; Melatonin; Suprachiasmatic nucleus
The present study employed light and electron microscopic methods to investigate the ontogenetic origin of the olfactory organ in bichirs (Cladistia: Polypteridae) and explore its evolution among osteichthyans. In former studies we demonstrated that in teleosts a subepidermal layer gives rise to the olfactory placode which in turn builds all types of olfactory cells (basal, receptor, supporting, ciliated non-sensory cells). In contrast, the olfactory placodes in sturgeons (Chondrostei: Acipenseridae) as well as in the clawed frog Xenopus laevis (Anura: Pipidae) originate from two different layers. Receptor neurons derive from cells of the subepidermal (sensory) layer and supporting cells from epidermal cells. As sturgeons and amphibians in some characters show a more primitive condition than teleosts, we extended our study to Polypterus to allow for an approach at the basic osteichthyan pattern. In Polypterus, an internal lumen occurs in early ontogenetic stages surrounded by the epithelium of the olfactory placode. Two different populations of supporting cells follow one another: a primary population derives from the subepidermal layer. Later supporting cells develop from epidermal cells by transdifferentiation. The primary opening of the internal lumen to the exterior develops by invagination from the epidermal surface and simultaneously by a counter-directed process of cell dissociation and fragmentation inside the olfactory placode. Our results indicate the following features to be plesiomorphic actinopterygian character states: The primary olfactory pit (prospective olfactory cavity) is formed by invagination of the epidermal and the subepidermal layer (as in Acipenser and Xenopus). The incurrent and excurrent nostrils derive from a single primary opening which elongates and is then separated by an epidermal bridge into the two external openings (as in Acipenser and many teleosts). The olfactory epithelium derives from an epidermal and a subepidermal layer (as in Acipenser and Xenopus). Apomorphic (derived actinopterygian) features are: (1) an internal lumen as primordium of the future olfactory chamber; (2) a subepidermal layer gives rise to the olfactory epithelium and its constituents (Polypterus and teleosts). As to the origin of the olfactory supporting cells in Polypterus we assume a combination of plesiomorphic and apomorphic characters. We conclude that Acipenser and Xenopus exhibit the most widely distributed features among basal osteognathostomes and thus ancestral character states in the development of the olfactory organs.
Actinopterygii; Cladistia; Olfactory Placode; Ontogeny; Phylogeny; Ultrastructure
The emergence of the human brain is one of evolution’s most compelling mysteries. With its singular importance and astounding complexity, understanding the forces that gave rise to the human brain is a major undertaking. Recently, the identification and publication of the complete genomic sequence of humans, mice, chimpanzees, and macaques has allowed for large-scale studies looking for the genic substrates of this natural selection. These investigations into positive selection, however, have generally produced incongruous results. Here we consider some of these studies and their differences in methodologies with an eye towards how they affect the results. We also clarify the strengths and weaknesses of each of these approaches and discuss how these can be synthesized to develop a more complete understanding of the genetic correlates behind the human brain and the selective events that have acted upon them.
Hominid; Primate; Human evolution; Brain evolution; Neurogenetics; Molecular evolution
Using field broadcasts of model male calling songs, we tested whether Tibicen pruinosa and T. chloromera (Homoptera: Cicadidae) are candidate hosts for acoustic parasitoid flies. The model calling song of T. pruinosa attracted 90% of the flies (Sarcophagidae: Emblemasoma sp.; all larvapositing females) when broadcast simultaneously with the model T. chloromera song, a phonotactic bias reconfirmed in single song playbacks. In paired broadcasts of model T. pruinosa songs with different relative amplitudes (3 dB or 6 dB), significantly more flies were attracted to the more powerful song, a result consistent with the responses predicted by a model proposed by Forrest and Raspet . Using intracellular recordings and dye injections, we characterized the sensitivity of auditory units in sound-trapped flies. Intracellular recordings from six auditory units (5 interneurons, 1 afferent) revealed best sensitivity for frequencies near 3-4 kHz, matching the predominant spectral components of the calling songs of both species of cicada. Interestingly, although flies could be attracted to T. pruinosa broadcasts throughout the day, hourly censuses of singing males revealed that calling occurred exclusively at dusk. Furthermore, the duration of the dusk chorus in T. pruinosa was significantly shorter than the midday chorus of the less attractive song of T. chloromera. We propose that the tight temporal aggregation of the dusk chorus time could function to reduce risk from attracted parasitoids.
Cicada; Diel Behavior; Parasitoid; Cricket; Chorus; Tibicen; Ormia; Emblemasoma; phonotaxis; interneuron; frequency tuning
Evolutionary effects of domestication have been demonstrated for several body systems, including the eye, and for several vertebrate species, including the mouse. Given the importance of the laboratory mouse to vision science, we wished to determine whether the anatomical and histological features of the eyes of laboratory mice are distinct from those of their naturally adapted, wild counterparts. We measured dimensions and masses of whole eyes and lenses from a wild population plus three inbred strains (C57BL/6J, NZB/BINJ, and DBA/1J) of the house house, Mus musculus, as well as wild and outbred laboratory-domesticated stock of the deer mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus. Histological preparations from these eyes were used to determine outer nuclear layer thickness, linear density of the ganglion cell layer, and for indirect immunofluorescence evaluation of cone opsin expression. For all of these traits, no statistically significant differences were found between any laboratory strain and its wild counterpart. The evolutionary effects of domestication of mice therefore do not include changes to the eye in any variable measured, supporting the continued use of this animal as a model for a naturally adapted visual system.
Mouse; Eye; Photoreceptor; Ganglion cell; Evolution; Domestication; Vision; Mammal
Animals coordinate their physiological state with external cues to appropriately time reproduction. These external cues exert effects through influences on the gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons (GnRH), at the apex of the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonad (HPG) axis. In green treefrogs, mating calls are important regulators of reproductive behavior and physiology. Reception of mating calls causes an increase in androgen levels, and androgens promote the production of mating calls, demonstrating a mutual influence between the communication and endocrine systems. In order to investigate the central nervous system correlates of social regulation of the HPG axis in green treefrogs, we exposed males to a mating chorus or a control stimulus (tones), counted the resulting number of septopreoptic GnRH-immunoreactive cells (GnRH-ir), and measured changes in plasma androgens. We found that reception of the mating chorus caused an increase in the number of GnRH-ir cells. As previously shown, we also found that the reception of the mating chorus resulted in higher androgen levels, suggesting that the higher GnRH-ir cell number represents increased GnRH production and release. We suggest that mating calls are an important supplementary cue that promotes GnRH production and release within the context of GnRH regulation by seasonal cues. Previous studies have proposed a neuroanatomical link between the anuran auditory system and GnRH neurons. Our results demonstrate a functional role for this proposed sensory-endocrine circuit, and show for the first time an influence of acoustic signals on GnRH neurons.
GnRH; Amphibian; Treefrog; Acoustic communication; Androgens; Supplementary reproductive cue
Myelin, the insulating sheath made by extensive plasma membrane wrappings is dependent on the presence of highly adhesive molecules that keep the two sides of the membrane in tight contact. The Po glycoprotein (Po) is the major component of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) myelin of mammals. The exact role that Po protein has played in the evolution of myelin is still unclear, but several phylogenetic observations point to it as a crucial component in the development of myelin as a multi-lamellar membrane structure. Sharks, which appeared in evolution about 400 million years ago, are the first fully myelinated organisms. In this study we set out to investigate the expression pattern of shark myelin Po as a way of understanding how it might have played a role in the evolution of myelin in the central nervous system. We found that shark have more than two isoforms (32, 28 and 25kD), and that some of these might not be fully functional because they lack the domains known for Po homophilic adhesion.
Neurogenesis and neuronal replacement in adulthood represent dramatic forms of plasticity that might serve as a substrate for behavioral flexibility. In songbirds, neurons are continually replaced in HVC (used as a proper name), a pre-motor region necessary for the production of learned vocalizations. There are large individual differences in HVC neuron addition. Some of this variation is probably due to individual differences in adult experience; however, it is also possible that heritability or experience early in development constrains the levels of adult neuron addition. As a step toward addressing the latter two possibilities, we explored the extent to which nest of origin predicts rates of HVC neuron addition in adult male zebra finches. One month after injections of [3H]-thymidine to mark dividing cells, neuron addition in HVC was found to co-vary among birds that had been nest mates, even when they were housed in different cages as adults. We also tested whether nest mate co-variation might be due to shared adult auditory experience by measuring neuron addition in nest mate pairs after one member was deafened. There were significant differences in neuron addition between hearing and deaf birds but nest mate relationships persisted. These results suggest that variation in genotype and/or early pre- or postnatal experience can account for a large fraction of adult variation in rates of neuron addition. These results also suggest that a major constraint on neurogenesis and the capacity to adjust rates of neuron addition in response to adult auditory experience is established early in development.
Adult neurogenesis; Birdsong; Heritability; Song system
In many vertebrates, the production and reception of species-typical courtship signals occurs when gonadotropin and gonadal hormone levels are elevated. These hormones may modify sensory processing in the signal receiver in a way that enhances behavioral responses to the signal. We examined this possibility in female túngara frogs (Physalaemus pustulosus) by treating them with either gonadotropin (which elevated estradiol) or saline and exposing them to either mate choruses or silence. Expression of an activity-dependent gene, egr-1, was quantified within two sub-nuclei of the auditory midbrain to investigate whether gonadotropin plus chorus exposure induced greater egr-1 induction than either of these stimuli alone. The laminar nucleus (LN), a sub-nucleus of the torus semicircularis that contains steroid receptors, exhibited elevated egr-1 induction in response to chorus exposure and gonadotropin treatment. Further analysis revealed that neither chorus exposure nor gonadotropin treatment alone elevated egr-1 expression in comparison to baseline levels whereas gonadotropin + chorus exposure did. This suggests that mate signals and hormones together produce an additive effect so that together they induce more egr-1 expression than either alone. Our previously published studies of female túngara frogs reveal that (1) gonadotropin-induced estradiol elevations also increase behavioral responses to male signals, and (2) reception of male signals elevates estradiol levels in the female. Here, we report data that reveal a novel mechanism by which males exploit female sensory processing to increase behavioral responses to their courtship signals.
Amphibian; Acoustic communication; Midbrain; Gonadotropin; Immediate early genes
Brain receptor patterns for the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) receptors, CRF1 and CRF2, are dramatically different between monogamous and promiscuous vole species, and CRF physiologically regulates pair bonding behavior in the monogamous prairie vole. However, little is known whether species differences also exist in the neuroanatomical distribution of the endogenous ligands for the CRF1 and CRF2 receptors, such as CRF and urocortin-1 (Ucn1). We compared the expression of CRF and Ucn1 in four vole species, monogamous prairie and pine voles, and promiscuous meadow and montane voles, using in situ hybridization of CRF and Ucn1 mRNA. Our results reveal that CRF mRNA expression patterns in all four vole species appear highly conserved throughout the brain, including the olfactory bulb, nucleus accumbens, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, medial preoptic area, central amygdala, hippocampus, posterior thalamus, and cerebellum. Similarly, Ucn1 mRNA primarily localized to the Edinger-Westphal nucleus in all four vole species. Immunocytochemistry in prairie and meadow voles confirmed localization of CRF and Ucn1 protein to these previously identified brain regions. These data demonstrate a striking dichotomy between the extraordinary species diversity of brain receptor patterns when compared to the highly conserved brain distributions of their respective ligands. Our findings generate novel hypotheses regarding the evolutionary mechanisms underlying the neural circuitry of species-typical social behaviors.
Corticotropin-releasing hormone; CRF1; CRF2; median raphe; nucleus accumbens; Edinger-Westphal nucleus; CRF Corticotropin-releasing factor; Ucn1 Urocortin 1; OB olfactory bulb; NAcc nucleus accumbens; BnST bed nucleus of stria terminalis; MPOA medial preoptic area; PVN paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus; hippo hippocampus; CeA central nucleus of the amygdala; thal posterior thalamus; MR median raphe nucleus; CBg cerebellum granular layer; EW Edinger-Westphal nucleus
The evolution of the mechanosensory cellular module and the molecular details that regulate its development has included morphological modifications of these cells as well as the formation of larger assemblies of mechanosensory cell aggregates among metazoans. This has resulted in a wide diversity of mechanosensory organs. The wide morphological diversity of organs, including the associated morphological modifications of the mechanosensory cells, suggests parallel evolution of these modules and their associated organs. This morphological diversity is in stark contrast to the molecular conservation of developmental modules across phyla. These molecular data suggest that the evolution of mechanosensory transduction might have preceded that of distinct cellular differentiation. However, once a molecular network governing development of specialized cells involved in mechanosensory transduction evolved, that molecular network was preserved across phyla. Present data suggest that at least the common ancestor of triploblastic organisms, perhaps even the common diploblastic ancestor of bilaterian metazoans, had molecular and cellular specializations for mechanosensation. It is argued that the evolution of multicellular organs dedicated to specific aspects of mechanosensation, such as gravity and sound perception, are evolutionary transformations that build on this conserved molecular network for cellular specialization, but reflect distinct morphological solutions. We propose that the sensory neurons, connecting the craniate ear with the brain, are a derived feature of craniates, and possibly chordates, that came about through diversification of the lineage forming mechanosensory cells during development. This evolutionarily late event suggests a heterochronic shift, so that sensory neurons develop in mammals prior to mechanosensory hair cells. However, sensory neuron development is connected to hair cell development, likely in a clonal relationship. The theme of cellular conservation is reiterated in two examples of chordate otic diversification: the evolution of the horizontal canal system and the evolution of the basilar papilla/cochlea. It is suggested that here again, cellular multiplication and formation of a special epithelium predates the functional transformation to an ‘organ’ system for horizontal angular acceleration and sound pressure reception, respectively. Overall, evolution of the vertebrate ear needs to be understood as an interplay between and utilization of two gene networks or modules. One is at the level of the molecularly and developmentally conserved mechanosensory cellular module. The other is an increased complexity in the morphology of both adult mechanosensory cells and organs by the addition of end-stage and novel features and associated gene networks to detect specific aspects of mechanosensory stimuli.
Ear evolution; Hair cell; Mechanosensory neurons; Molecular evolution; Mechanosensory channels
In fish the terminal nerve is comprised of a group of cells with somata adjacent to the olfactory bulb and processes that extend both anteriorly to the olfactory mucosa and posteriorly to the telencephalon. In teleost fish an additional group of axons extends along the optic tract and delivers putative neuromodulators to the retina. One peptide – gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) – has been implicated as a prime candidate neuromodulator based on electrophysiological evidence that exogenous application influences neural activity. Here we describe the expression patterns of two GnRH receptor subtypes in the retina of a teleost fish, Astatotilapia (Haplochromis) burtoni. The type 1 GnRH receptor (GnRH-R1) was expressed in cells of the amacrine cell layer – where lateral inputs affect the flow of visual information from photoreceptors to the brain – and in a distribution and location pattern similar to dopaminergic interplexiform cells. Immunohistochemical labeling of GnRH fibers revealed varicosities along terminal nerve axons near the amacrine cell layer and near cells immunoreactive for tyrosine hydroxylase, a dopaminergic cell marker. This finding supports an existing model that the terminal nerve forms synapses with dopaminergic interplexiform cells. Surprisingly, the type 2 GnRH receptor (GnRH-R2) was abundantly expressed in ganglion cells, which lie along the direct pathway of visual information to the brain. These data suggest that GnRH from the TN could broadly influence processing of retinal signals both in lateral processing circuits through GnRH-R1 and in the vertical throughput pathway through GnRH-R2.
Terminal nerve; Teleost; Amacrine cell; Retinal ganglion cell; GNRH; Receptor; Fish
Magnetic resonance images (MRI) were collected in a sample of 28 apes, 16 Old World monkeys and 8 New World monkeys. The length of the sylvian fissure (SF) and the superior temporal sulcus (STS) was traced in each hemisphere from three regions of the cerebral cortex. These three regions were labeled according to their position on the sagittal plane as lateral, medial and insular. It was hypothesized that the length and asymmetry of these fissures would be dependent on the region of measurement and that a leftward asymmetry in the SF and STS would be more robust in the great ape sample than for the monkeys. The results indicated within the ape sample a population-level leftward asymmetry in the medial and insular regions of the SF. Within the Old and New World monkey samples, the SF was leftward in the medial region at the population level, but not at the insular region. Additionally, the Old World monkeys exhibited a population-level rightward lateral SF and a rightward lateral STS. No other families exhibited population-level asymmetries in the lateral region of the SF or in any region of the STS. These results are consistent with findings reported in apes and, to a lesser extent, monkeys. MRI has excellent potential for comparing neuroanatomy across taxonomic families that will help future investigations.
Sylvian fissure; Magnetic resonance imaging; Non-human primates; Asymmetry