Reconstruction of songbird brain areas with light- and electron microscopy
A set of distinct brain areas participates in learning and generation of songs in zebra finches. It is known that complex spatio-temporal neural activity patterns underlie vocal production, though the generation of these patterns remains poorly understood. For example, the roles of premotor brain areas RA (robust nucleus of the arcopallium) and HCV (high vocal centre) have been well characterized. However, almost nothing is known about their synaptic organization and the way in which afferent inputs form other brain areas are processed in HVC. The aim of my project is to reconstruct the local HCV and RA networks in the light microscope, in order to gain new insights into the mechanisms by which neurons in these areas integrate inputs and generate meaningful outputs. In particular, using anterograde and retrograde labeling techniques I will try to differentially label neurons projecting to different areas as well as afferent axonal structures, whereas immunostaining should allow the identification of synaptic terminals. Using confocal light scanning microscopy, I hope to be able to obtain a three dimensional visualization of HVC or RA. This visualisation will serve as a template for further analysis using electron microscopy techniques.