Result of the month: 2020-02: A06

Inhibition within a premotor circuit controls the timing of vocal turn-taking in zebra finches

Zebra finches respond to calls with a stereotyped latency.
a) An example bird presented with call playbacks at a rate of one per second (grey) responds with calls (blue).
b) The zebra finch vocal-motor pathway. The premotor nucleus HVC receives auditory inputs and drives the timing of vocalizations via the descending vocal-motor pathway (blue).
c) Effects of bilateral disinhibition of HVC on call response timing. After blocking inhibitory transmission in HVC with bilateral infusion of GABAA receptor antagonist, gabazine, call response latencies are significantly shorter (orange) and more likely to overlap with call playbacks than under control conditions (blue, from (a)).
d) Call related activity of HVC neurons. Example traces of four intracellular recordings from HVC neurons aligned to onset of call production. From top to bottom: the recorded traces were obtained from an interneuron (red), two different premotor neurons (green & blue), and a premotor neuron recorded after local application of gabazine (orange). Interneurons increased their firing rate prior to calls, while premotor neurons fired temporally precise bursts around call onset, but were silent when birds are not vocalizing.

Open access nature communication paper:

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