C. Del Negro and J.-M. Edeline (2001) Differences in auditory and physiological properties of HVc neurons between reproductively active male and female canaries (Serinus canaria). Eur. J. Neurosci., 14, 1377–1389.

In the abstract of this paper and in the second paragraph of the discussion, ‘action potential ≤ 0.6 ms’ was incorrectly printed as ‘action potential = 0.6 ms’ and ‘action potential, 0.6 ms’, respectively. Also, in the last sentence of the abstract, ‘identifiying’ was printed as ‘in dentifiying’. The publishers apologise for any inconvenience caused, and print the corrected abstract here.


Based on neuronal recordings in the HVc, this study investigated differences between reproductively active male and sexually receptive female canaries. It is the first study to describe auditory responses and cell characteristics of HVc neurons in female songbirds and to compare them with the responses and characteristics obtained in males. Extracellular single unit recordings showed that in males HVc cells exhibited two types of auditory responses to conspecific and heterospecific song playbacks: tonic and phasic responses. The major finding of the present study is the absence of tonic responses in females. Neurons in the HVc of females only responded phasically to song playbacks. In both sexes, neurons exhibiting auditory responses had thinner action potentials than the others. As all the tonic cells recorded in males were thin spike cells (action potential ≤ 0.6 ms) and had high firing rates (6 Hz in average), they are potentially interneurons. In both sexes, two categories of nonresponsive cells were found: neurons that did not fire at song onset and had the lowest spontaneous firing rate; and neurons that did not exhibit changes in activity in response to song playbacks. Analyses of physiological characteristics of HVc neurons revealed that the rate of spontaneous activity was higher in males than in females. This study is a first step towards identifying the cellular bases of the sexual dimorphism in HVc function and highlights the pivotal role of interneurons in HVc auditory processing.