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Noradrenergic and GABA B receptor activation differentially modulate inputs to the premotor nucleus RA in zebra finches

TitleNoradrenergic and GABA B receptor activation differentially modulate inputs to the premotor nucleus RA in zebra finches
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsSizemore M, Perkel DJ
JournalJ Neurophysiol
Date Published2008
ISBN Number0022-3077 (Print)0022-3077 (Linking)
KeywordsAdrenergic alpha-Agonists/pharmacology, Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists/pharmacology, Antineoplastic Agents, Animals, Baclofen/pharmacology, Bicuculline/pharmacology, effects, Electric Stimulation/methods, Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials/drug effects/*physiology/radiation, Male, Finches, GABA Agonists/pharmacology, GABA Antagonists/pharmacology, Models, Neurological, Neural Pathways/drug effects/physiology/radiation effects, Neurons/drug effects/radiation effects, Norepinephrine/pharmacology, Quinoxalines/pharmacology, Receptors, Adrenergic/*physiology, Receptors, GABA-B/*physiology, Telencephalon/cytology/*physiology, Yohimbine/pharmacology

Neuromodulators can rapidly modify neural circuits, altering behavior. Songbirds provide an excellent system for studying the role of neuromodulation in modifying circuits that underlie behavior because song learning and production are mediated by a discrete set of interconnected nuclei. We examined the neuromodulatory effects of noradrenergic and GABA B receptor activation on synaptic inputs to the premotor robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA) in zebra finches using whole cell voltage-clamp recording in vitro. In adults, norepinephrine strongly reduced input from the lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium (LMAN) but only slightly reduced the input from nucleus HVC (proper name), the excitatory input from axon collaterals of other RA neurons, and input from GABAergic interneurons. The effect of norepinephrine was mimicked by the alpha2 adrenoceptor agonist UK14,304 and blocked by the alpha2 antagonist yohimbine. Conversely, the GABA B receptor agonist baclofen strongly decreased HVC, collateral, and GABAergic inputs to RA neurons while causing little reduction in the LMAN input. In juveniles undergoing song learning, norepinephrine reduced the LMAN input, caused only a small reduction in the HVC input, and greatly reduced the collateral and GABAergic inputs. Baclofen caused similar results in juvenile and adult birds, reducing HVC, collateral, and GABAergic inputs significantly more than the LMAN input. Significant increases in paired-pulse ratio accompanied all reductions in synaptic transmission, suggesting a presynaptic locus. The reduction in the LMAN input by norepinephrine may be important for mediating changes in song elicited by different social contexts and is well-placed to play a role in song learning.