Testosterone and social context affect singing behavior but not song control region volumes in adult male songbirds in the fall
Testosterone (T) induces singing behavior and mediates changes in the sizes and neuroanatomical characteristics of brain regions controlling singing behavior (song control regions, SCRs) in songbirds. These effects may require the enzymatic conversion of T into androgenic and estrogenic metabolites by brain tissues and can be modulated by factors such as season and social context. Testosterone administration to adult male House Finches, Carpodacus mexicanus, in the spring increases the size of their SCRs. Here, we used males of this species to investigate effects of T and T metabolism on brain morphology and singing behavior in the fall. Birds received Silastic capsules containing androgens, estrogens, and/or inhibitors of androgenic action or estrogen synthesis to determine effects of these hormones on song rates and SCR volumes. We also manipulated the social environment by changing the number of birds in visual contact with each other. Testosterone treatment stimulated singing behavior in finches held in small, visually isolated groups and exposed to song playbacks. However, administration of T or T metabolites did not increase SCR sizes. The data suggest that photoperiodic condition and social context may modulate the effects of steroids on SCRs and singing behavior.
Strand, C., M.S. Ross, S.L. Weiss, and D. Deviche. 2008. Testosterone and social context affect singing behavior but not song control region volumes in adult male songbirds in the fall. Behavioural Processes 78(2008):29-37.