Electrical stimulation in forebrain nuclei elicits learned vocal patterns in songbirds

D. S. Vicario, H. B. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


1. Microstimulation (trains of biphasic current pulses at 50400 Hz lasting 2-4 s) was delivered unilaterally to known vocal control areas in the brains of zebra finches and canaries to elicit vocalizations. 2. Simple vocalizations were elicited from the midbrain, and the lowest thresholds were obtained from the dorsomedial nucleus of the intercollicular complex (DM). 3. Vocalizations elicited from forebrain vocal control nuclei higher vocal center (HVC) and robustus archistriatalis (RA) were complex, with features specific not only to the species, but to the individual bird's own learned song. 4. Complex acoustic features depended on innervation of the bird's vocal organ and were lost when the tracheosyringeal nerve was cut. 5. We suggest that stimulation of the forebrain vocal pathway activates a dedicated neural circuit that generates the temporal structure of song and whose specific pattern of activity is programmed during sensorimotor learning in each individual.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2602-2607
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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