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Experience-dependent neuronal specialization and functional organization in the central auditory area of a songbird

Abstract : The effect of early experience on brain development was investigated in the central auditory area of a songbird, the field L complex, which is analogous to the mammalian auditory cortex. Multi-unit recordings of auditory responses in the field L complex of adult starlings raised without any experience of adult song during development provide strong evidence of developmental plasticity both in the neuronal responses and in the functional organization of this area. Across the entire area, experimental birds, separated from adults from the age of 1 week old until they were 2 years old, had a much larger number of neurons that responded to all the stimuli than did control birds. The well-known tonotopy demonstrated in adult wild birds using the same procedure was altered. This study is the first to bring evidence of developmental plasticity in the organization of the central auditory areas in songbirds. These results are discussed in relation to other reports on effects of early experience on brain development.
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Hugo Cousillas, Jean-Pierre Richard, Maryvonne Forasté-Mathelier, Laurence Henry, Isabelle George, et al.. Experience-dependent neuronal specialization and functional organization in the central auditory area of a songbird. European Journal of Neuroscience, Wiley, 2004, 19 (12), pp.3343-3352. ⟨10.1111/j.0953-816X.2004.03376.x⟩. ⟨hal-01303568⟩

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