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      Vocal babbling in songbirds requires the basal ganglia-recipient motor thalamus but not the basal ganglia.

      Journal of Neurophysiology

      Animals, physiology, Vocalization, Animal, drug effects, cytology, Thalamus, Sound Localization, Neurons, Neural Pathways, toxicity, analogs & derivatives, N-Methylaspartate, Male, Finches, Brain Mapping, Basal Ganglia

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          Abstract

          Young songbirds produce vocal "babbling," and the variability of their songs is thought to underlie a process of trial-and-error vocal learning. It is known that this exploratory variability requires the "cortical" component of a basal ganglia (BG) thalamocortical loop, but less understood is the role of the BG and thalamic components in this behavior. We found that large bilateral lesions to the songbird BG homolog Area X had little or no effect on song variability during vocal babbling. In contrast, lesions to the BG-recipient thalamic nucleus DLM (medial portion of the dorsolateral thalamus) largely abolished normal vocal babbling in young birds and caused a dramatic increase in song stereotypy. These findings support the idea that the motor thalamus plays a key role in the expression of exploratory juvenile behaviors during learning.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          21430276
          10.1152/jn.00823.2010
          3118735

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