Parvalbumin-positive projection neurons characterise the vocal premotor pathway in male, but not female, zebra finches

J. Martin Wild, Matthew N. Williams, Roderick A. Suthers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations


Parvalbumin (PV) and calbindin (CB) immunoreactivities were assessed in nucleus robustus archistriatalis (RA) of male and female zebra finches, together with retrograde labelling of RA neurons. The results of double and triple labelling experiments suggested that, in males, moderately and faintly PV-positive neurons were projection neurons, but that all intensely PV-positive cells were not. The latter, which are presumably interneurons, were also intensely CB-positive, and may correspond to the GABAergic inhibitory interneurons identified by others. In addition, the complete RA pathway and its terminal fields in the respiratory-vocal nuclei of the brainstem were strongly PV-positive. In female zebra finches, which do not sing, no evidence was found that PV-positive RA cells were projection neurons, yet the pattern of projections of RA neurons, as determined by anterograde transport of biotinylated dextran amine, was very similar to that of RA in males. Moreover, in females, RA neurons retrogradely labelled from injections of cholera toxin B-chain into the tracheosyringeal nucleus (XIIts) were abundant and included, in the lateral part of the nucleus, a population of cells that were as large as those in the male RA. Parvalbumin immunoreactivity was also present in RA and its projections in males of several other songbird species (northern cardinal, brown headed cowbird, canary) and in the female cardinal, which sings to some extent, but the labelling was not as intense as that in male zebra finches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-252
Number of pages18
JournalBrain research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2 2001


  • Bird
  • Calcium binding protein
  • Vocalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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