The development of stimulus-specific auditory responses requires song exposure in male but not female zebra finches Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Auditory Perception
  • Brain
  • Finches
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Vocalization, Animal


  • Juvenile male zebra finches develop their song by imitation. Females do not sing but are attracted to males' songs. With functional magnetic resonance imaging and event-related potentials we tested how early auditory experience shapes responses in the auditory forebrain of the adult bird. Adult male birds kept in isolation over the sensitive period for song learning showed no consistency in auditory responses to conspecific songs, calls, and syllables. Thirty seconds of song playback each day over development, which is sufficient to induce song imitation, was also sufficient to shape stimulus-specific responses. Strikingly, adult females kept in isolation over development showed responses similar to those of males that were exposed to songs. We suggest that early auditory experience with songs may be required to tune perception toward conspecific songs in males, whereas in females song selectivity develops even without prior exposure to song.

publication date

  • January 2010



  • Academic Article



  • eng

PubMed Central ID

  • PMC3724414

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/dneu.20751

PubMed ID

  • 19937773

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 28

end page

  • 40


  • 70


  • 1