Morphological characterization of HVC projection neurons in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). uri icon


  • Singing behavior in the adult male zebra finch is dependent upon the activity of a cortical region known as HVC (proper name). The vast majority of HVC projection neurons send primary axons to either the downstream premotor nucleus RA (robust nucleus of the arcopallium, or primary motor cortex) or Area X (basal ganglia), which play important roles in song production or song learning, respectively. In addition to these long-range outputs, HVC neurons also send local axon collaterals throughout that nucleus. Despite their implications for a range of circuit models, these local processes have never been completely reconstructed. Here, we use in vivo single-neuron Neurobiotin fills to examine 40 projection neurons across 31 birds with somatic positions distributed across HVC. We show that HVC(RA) and HVC(X) neurons have categorically distinct dendritic fields. Additionally, these cell classes send axon collaterals that are either restricted to a small portion of HVC ("local neurons") or broadly distributed throughout the entire nucleus ("broadcast neurons"). Overall, these processes within HVC offer a structural basis for significant local processing underlying behaviorally relevant population activity.

publication date

  • July 1, 2018