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Intratelencephalic Sensorimotor Circuits in Birds - What Have Feeding and Vocalization in Common?

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

Specific activities, like feeding and vocalization, share several elements such as head, beak and tongue movements. Then it can be expected that such activities are - at least partly- under the control of common neuronal sensorimotor systems. The comparison of sensorimotor systems in different species and with different functions can help to recognize common traits as well as evolutionary innovations. Such comparisons reveal that, by instance, the intratelencephalic vocalization circuits of song birds and budgerigar have some traits in common, but at the same time show striking differences, such as the use of different ascending auditory pathways. At the other hand, there is a clear resemblance between the vocalization system in the budgerigar and the 'feeding circuit' of the mallard. An important difference is the presence of a specific cell group within archistriatum with a direct projection to the motor nucleus innervating the syringeal muscles in the budgerigar and song birds that is missing in the mallard. Another example of specialization of an archistriatal cell group may be the 'gaze center' described in the barn owl. It is suggested that the various systems derive from sensorimotor circuits with a common pattern of organization, whereas highly specialized functions may evoke the differentation of specialized cell groups within these circuits.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Evolutionary and Ecological Sciences, Leiden University, P.O.B. 9516, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands


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