Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hormones May Affect How Brain Listens, Emory Study Finds

Date:
May 3, 2006
Source:
Emory University Health Sciences Center
Summary:
From zebra fish to humans, reproductive hormones govern behavioral responses to courtship signals. A study conducted in songbirds suggests that hormones may also modulate the way the auditory system processes courtship signals. Hormones may affect how birds listen to courtship songs when it's time to reproduce.

From zebra fish to humans, reproductive hormones govern behavioral responses to courtship signals. A new Emory University study conducted in songbirds suggests that hormones may also modulate the way the auditory system processes courtship signals. In other words, hormones may affect how the birds actually listen to courtship songs at certain times of the year when it's time to reproduce.

Related Articles


Like many animals, songbirds put on their reproductive song and dance routine each spring: Male birds perform their finest songs, and female birds respond, hormonally prepped for the breeding season. In this research, Emory neuroscientist Donna Maney examined the auditory areas of the brain to see how estrogen affects the selectivity of song-induced gene expression. Dubbed the "genomic response," this is a highly specific process wherein genes are turned on to perform as they're programmed.

"Our work suggests that estrogen, which is normally high only during the breeding season, may actually alter auditory pathways and centers," Maney says. "The changes in gene expression reflect changes in the brain that are related to auditory learning and attention."

In the study, published in the current issue of the European Journal of Neuroscience, Maney and her research group compared estrogen-treated female white-throated sparrows with females not treated with hormones. The birds listened to recordings of either seductive male song or synthetic, frequency-matched beeps.

The birds reacted as expected to the songs, with the hormone-treated females responding by performing their mating moves -- known as "copulation solicitation" -- whereas the untreated females remained unimpressed and did not respond with courtship displays. Both groups essentially ignored the beeps. Although the genomic response in the auditory systems of the hormone-treated females was much higher in response to song than to beeps, as expected, in the untreated females it was the same for the songs and synthetic beeps, making no differentiation between the two.

The most interesting result was the pattern of genomic responses across groups. "The main difference between estrogen-treated and untreated birds was not that estrogen increased the response to song. Rather, estrogen decreased the response to beeps. This decrease could be a mechanism for tuning out what is not relevant, allowing the birds to focus on the signals important for breeding," Maney says.

In the big picture, the results of their work may indicate how hormones affect sensory processing in general. "Our results fit with studies showing that women's preferences for masculine faces, voices and body odors change over the menstrual cycle, as hormones are changing," she says. "What we've started to uncover here is a possible neural substrate for such hormone-induced changes."

Maney is an assistant professor of psychology and a member of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience at Emory. She is a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2004), and her research is funded by a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. Coauthors of the paper include Emory researchers Chris Goode and Ellen Cho.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Emory University Health Sciences Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Emory University Health Sciences Center. "Hormones May Affect How Brain Listens, Emory Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060503100457.htm>.
Emory University Health Sciences Center. (2006, May 3). Hormones May Affect How Brain Listens, Emory Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060503100457.htm
Emory University Health Sciences Center. "Hormones May Affect How Brain Listens, Emory Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060503100457.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Two Andean bear cubs are unveiled at the U.S. National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Alicia Powell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) — Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins