Bilaterally symmetrical respiratory activity during lateralized birdsong

Franz Goller, Roderick A. Suthers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


We investigated whether activity of expiratory muscles reflects lateralized activity of the vocal organ during production of birdsong. Respiration and syringeal motor activity were assessed in brown thrashers by monitoring bilateral airflow and subsyringeal air sac pressure, together with the electromyographic activity of expiratory abdominal muscles and vocal output. Activity of expiratory muscles was always present on both sides, regardless of whether song was produced bilaterally or on only one side of the syrinx. The average amplitude of expiratory EMG of one side does not change significantly, even if that side is silent during phonation. The temporal pattern of the electromyogram (EMG) was similar on both sides. Bilateral bursts of EMG activity on both sides accompanied changes in the rate of syringeal airflow, even when these flow fluctuations were generated only by one side of the syrinx. Motor commands to the respiratory muscles therefore appear to be bilaterally distributed, in contrast to the lateralized motor control of the syrinx.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-523
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 13 1999


  • Motor control
  • Motor coordination
  • Neural lateralization
  • Respiratory muscles
  • Song production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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