Effects of unilateral lesions of HVC on song patterns of male domesticated canaries



Bird song is a model for studying neural control and lateralization of a learned behavior. Adult male canary develops large and varied song repertoires. Particular features of the male are well known to stimulate the reproductive activities of the female. We report here on the effect of lesions of either the left or right HVC, a key nucleus of the descending vocal control network of songbirds, on different song parameters of common domesticated male canaries of an European outbred strain. These canaries are useful to evaluate the question of central versus peripheral lateralization because they do not show syringeal dominance for syllable production compared to the previously studied canary strains. Right-sided lesions reduced the highest frequency and the widest frequency band. Left-sided lesion increased the lowest frequency. The size of the left-sided lesions correlated with the reduction of the repertoire of simple syllables, of the total repertoire and of the highest repetition rate, and with the increase of the lowest frequency. These results suggest a lateralized specialization of both left and right vocal pathways for particular features of the song, especially those that are known to elicit a great number of copulation solicitation displays (CSD). Lesions of both left and right pathways affected, however, sound amplitude of all syllables. Because this effect was more sever following left-sided lesions, and because the syrinx morphology of canaries has a left-right asymmetry, we suggest a peripheral mechanism for the observed lateralized specializations. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Neurobiol 56: 303–314, 2003