Imaging auditory representations of song and syllables in populations of sensorimotor neurons essential to vocal communication

Wendy Y X Peh, Todd F. Roberts, Richard Mooney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Vocal communication depends on the coordinated activity of sensorimotor neurons important to vocal perception and production. How vocalizations are represented by spatiotemporal activity patterns in these neuronal populations remains poorly understood. Here we combined intracellular recordings and two-photon calcium imaging in anesthetized adult zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) to examine how learned birdsong and its component syllables are represented in identified projection neurons (PNs) within HVC, a sensorimotor region important for song perception and production. These experiments show that neighboring HVC PNs can respond at markedly different times to song playback and that different syllables activate spatially intermingled PNs within a local (~100 µm) region of HVC. Moreover, noise correlations were stronger between PNs that responded most strongly to the same syllable and were spatially graded within and between classes of PNs. These findings support a model in which syllabic and temporal features of song are represented by spatially intermingled PNs functionally organized into cell- and syllable-type networks within local spatial scales in HVC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5589-5605
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Apr 8 2015



  • Auditory encoding
  • Calcium imaging
  • Functional organization
  • Sensorimotor area
  • Songbird
  • Vocal communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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