chapter  13
24 Pages

Behaviorally Regulated mRNA and Protein Expression in the Songbird Brain

Most biological processes are the result of the regulated expression of genes into their protein products in a defined temporal and spatial manner. The study of these dynamic protein changes in the brain is called neuroproteomics. A class of proteins expressed in the brain that have generated significant interests are those regulated by neural activity, called activity-dependent genes. The activity of neurons in the brain is important for normal brain function and expression of behavior. One system where the study of these features has been brought together is that of the songbird vocal learning system. Songbirds, and a limited number of animals (i.e., parrots, hummingbirds, bats, cetaceans, seals, elephants, and humans) are capable of vocal learning, the ability to produced imitative and improvisational sounds. Most animals do not have vocal learning but produce species-specific innate sounds used for alarm (e.g., predator) or other communication functions (e.g., alert for food or attracting a mate). The production of learned vocalizations requires the animal to process what

13.1 Introduction .................................................................................................. 239 13.2 Auditory and Vocal Pathways .......................................................................240 13.3 Expression of Singing-Regulated Genes and Their Proteins .......................242