Accelerated redevelopment of vocal skills is preceded by lasting reorganization of the song motor circuitry

Michiel Vellema*, Mariana Diales Rocha, Sabrina Bascones, Sándor Zsebők, Jes Dreier, Stefan Leitner, Annemie Van der Linden, Jonathan Brewer, Manfred Gahr

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Abstrakt

Complex motor skills take considerable time and practice to learn. Without continued practice the level of skill performance quickly degrades, posing a problem for the timely utilization of skilled motor behaviors. Here we quantified the recurring development of vocal motor skills and the accompanying changes in synaptic connectivity in the brain of a songbird, while manipulating skill performance by consecutively administrating and withdrawing testosterone. We demonstrate that a songbird with prior singing experience can significantly accelerate the re-acquisition of vocal performance. We further demonstrate that an increase in vocal performance is accompanied by a pronounced synaptic pruning in the forebrain vocal motor area HVC, a reduction that is not reversed when birds stop singing. These results provide evidence that lasting synaptic changes in the motor circuitry are associated with the savings of motor skills, enabling a rapid recovery of motor performance under environmental time constraints.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummere43194
TidsskrifteLife
Vol/bind8
Antal sider26
ISSN2050-084X
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 17. maj 2019

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