NEUROENDOCRINE CONTROL OF REPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIOR

Summary

Principal Investigator: LAUREN RITERS
Abstract: DESCRIPTION (applicant?s abstract): Environmental factors, hormones, and the brain interact to produce complex social behaviors, including those important for reproduction. The goal of the present series of studies, submitted by a new investigator, is to elucidate basic relationships between hormones and brain areas regulating sexual arousal and those important for the expression of behaviors reflecting sexual arousal. Songbirds provide an excellent model system for understanding this relationship. Song learning, production, and perception are known to be regulated by a specific group of sex steroid binding nuclei, known as "the song system"; however, little is known about brain areas regulating the motivation to sing. During the breeding season, song in male starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) is observed prior to pair formation and copulation and likely reflects male sexual arousal. The medial preoptic area (POM) is known in other species to be critical for the expression of male sexual arousal, and lesions to this nucleus disrupt singing and other courtship behaviors in male starlings, suggesting that the POM might regulate the motivation to sing within breeding context. The present proposal consists of four studies designed to understand the relationship between brain areas devoted exclusively to male song and the POM: 1) An anterograde and retrograde neuroanatomical tract tracing study aimed to determine neuroanatomical connections between the song system and the POM, 2) a POM lesion study comparing the effects of POM lesions on song sung within and outside of the breeding season, 3) an implant study in which an aromatase inhibitor will be implanted directly into the POM of castrated, testosterone treated male starlings to determine whether aromatase activity in the POM is critical for song sung in the breeding season, and 4) an investigation of the expression of the immediate early gene products of c-Fos and ZENK to explore further POM regulation of song in response to male or female stimulus birds presented during or outside of the breeding season. This work will define the role of the POM in male song and sexual behavior, could add another dimension to the current understanding of the neuroendocrine regulation of male song, and will serve to link two currently separate fields of research (research on birdsong and research on male sexual motivation), steps that are necessary to elucidate how the brain regulates complex social behaviors. In addition, this research could lay the groundwork for future studies on the etiology of disorders related to sexual arousal.
Funding Period: 2001-08-01 - 2005-07-31
more information: NIH RePORT

Top Publications

  1. ncbi Patterns of phosphorylated tyrosine hydroxylase vary with song production in female starlings
    Jesse M S Ellis
    426 Birge Hall, University of Wisconsin Madison, Department of Zoology, 430 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA, Electronic address
    Brain Res 1498:41-9. 2013
  2. ncbi Evidence for opioid involvement in the regulation of song production in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)
    Lauren V Riters
    Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA
    Behav Neurosci 119:245-55. 2005
  3. ncbi Immediate early gene activity in song control nuclei and brain areas regulating motivation relates positively to singing behavior during, but not outside of, a breeding context
    Sarah A Heimovics
    Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 53706, USA
    J Neurobiol 65:207-24. 2005
  4. ncbi Pharmacological manipulations of dopamine and opioids have differential effects on sexually motivated song in male European starlings
    Molly B Schroeder
    Department of Zoology, 361 Birge Hall, 430 Lincoln Drive, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706 USA
    Physiol Behav 88:575-84. 2006
  5. pmc Breeding-context-dependent relationships between song and cFOS labeling within social behavior brain regions in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)
    Sarah A Heimovics
    Department of Zoology, 361 Birge Hall, 430 Lincoln Drive, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA
    Horm Behav 50:726-35. 2006
  6. pmc ZENK labeling within social behavior brain regions reveals breeding context-dependent patterns of neural activity associated with song in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)
    Sarah A Heimovics
    Department of Zoology, 361 Birge Hall, 430 Lincoln Drive, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, United States
    Behav Brain Res 176:333-43. 2007
  7. pmc Lesions to the medial preoptic nucleus differentially affect singing and nest box-directed behaviors within and outside of the breeding season in European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)
    Sarah J Alger
    Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA
    Behav Neurosci 120:1326-36. 2006
  8. pmc Lesions to the medial preoptic nucleus affect immediate early gene immunolabeling in brain regions involved in song control and social behavior in male European starlings
    Sarah J Alger
    Department of Zoology, 363 Birge Hall, 430 Lincoln Drive, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA
    Eur J Neurosci 29:970-82. 2009

Scientific Experts

Detail Information

Publications8

  1. ncbi Patterns of phosphorylated tyrosine hydroxylase vary with song production in female starlings
    Jesse M S Ellis
    426 Birge Hall, University of Wisconsin Madison, Department of Zoology, 430 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA, Electronic address
    Brain Res 1498:41-9. 2013
    ..Phosphorylation of TH is thought to occur after catecholamine release, so these results link increased catecholamine activity in several brain regions governing agonistic behavior to territorial song production in females. ..
  2. ncbi Evidence for opioid involvement in the regulation of song production in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)
    Lauren V Riters
    Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA
    Behav Neurosci 119:245-55. 2005
    ..e., the medial preoptic nucleus and ventral tegmental area) related positively to male song production. These data suggest that song production might be regulated by opioid activity within motivation and reward neural systems...
  3. ncbi Immediate early gene activity in song control nuclei and brain areas regulating motivation relates positively to singing behavior during, but not outside of, a breeding context
    Sarah A Heimovics
    Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 53706, USA
    J Neurobiol 65:207-24. 2005
    ..Overall the data support the hypothesis that the POM and VTA interact with the song control system, specifically HVC and RA, to regulate sexually motivated vocal communication in songbirds...
  4. ncbi Pharmacological manipulations of dopamine and opioids have differential effects on sexually motivated song in male European starlings
    Molly B Schroeder
    Department of Zoology, 361 Birge Hall, 430 Lincoln Drive, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706 USA
    Physiol Behav 88:575-84. 2006
    ..These results suggest that dopamine and opioids play opposing roles in the regulation of the motivation to communicate...
  5. pmc Breeding-context-dependent relationships between song and cFOS labeling within social behavior brain regions in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)
    Sarah A Heimovics
    Department of Zoology, 361 Birge Hall, 430 Lincoln Drive, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA
    Horm Behav 50:726-35. 2006
    ..Taken together, these data suggest differential regulation of male starling song by social behavior nuclei depending upon the breeding context in which it is produced...
  6. pmc ZENK labeling within social behavior brain regions reveals breeding context-dependent patterns of neural activity associated with song in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)
    Sarah A Heimovics
    Department of Zoology, 361 Birge Hall, 430 Lincoln Drive, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, United States
    Behav Brain Res 176:333-43. 2007
    ..Breeding context-dependent regulation of song by LS, BSTm, and VMH suggests that these nuclei may be central to adjusting song production so that it occurs in response to appropriate social and environmental stimuli...
  7. pmc Lesions to the medial preoptic nucleus differentially affect singing and nest box-directed behaviors within and outside of the breeding season in European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)
    Sarah J Alger
    Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA
    Behav Neurosci 120:1326-36. 2006
    ..These data suggest that the POM interacts with the song control system so that song occurs in an appropriate social context in response to appropriate stimuli...
  8. pmc Lesions to the medial preoptic nucleus affect immediate early gene immunolabeling in brain regions involved in song control and social behavior in male European starlings
    Sarah J Alger
    Department of Zoology, 363 Birge Hall, 430 Lincoln Drive, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA
    Eur J Neurosci 29:970-82. 2009
    ..These results are consistent with the possibility that the POM integrates activity among nuclei involved in song control, social behavior and motivational state that work in concert to promote sexually motivated communication...