Marc Schmidt · NACS Seminar: Brainstem and Forebrain Contributions to the Generation of Learned Motor Behaviors for Song
The production of vocalizations in birds is intimately linked to the respiratory system. Despite our understanding of neural circuits that generate normal respiratory patterns, very little is understood regarding how these circuits become engaged during vocal production. Songbirds offer a potentially powerful model system for addressing this relationship. Songs dramatically alter the respiratory pattern in ways that are often highly predictable and songbirds have a specialized vocal motor circuit that provides massive innervation to a brainstem respiratory network that shares many similarities with its mammalian counterpart. I will highlight some of the interactions between the song motor circuit and the respiratory system in male songbirds and discuss how the respiratory brainstem, through its bilateral bottom-up projections to thalamus, might play a key role in sending precisely timed signals that synchronize premotor activity in both hemispheres.