Descending auditory pathways in the adult male zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata)

Claudio V. Mello, G. Edward Vates, Soshi Okuhata, Fernando Nottebohm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Scopus citations


Here, we examine the connectivity of two previously identified telencephalic stations of the auditory system of adult zebra finches, the neostriatal 'shelf' that underlies the high vocal center (HVC) and the archistriatal 'cup' adjacent to the robust nucleus of the archistriatum (RA). We used different kinds of neuroanatomical tracers to visualize the projections from the shelf to the HVC. In addition, we show that the shelf projects to the cup and that the cup projects to thalamic, midbrain, and pontine nuclei of the ascending auditory pathway. Our observations extend to songbirds anatomical features that are found in the auditory pathways of a nonoscine bird, the pigeon (Wild et al. [1993] J. Comp. Neurol. 337:32-62), and we suggest that the descending auditory projections found in mammals may also be a general property of the avian brain. Finally, we show that the oscine song control system is closely apposed to auditory pathways at many levels. Our observations may help in understanding the evolution and organization of networks for vocal communication and vocal learning in songbirds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-160
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Cup
  • High vocal center
  • Robust nucleus of the archistriatum
  • Shelf
  • Songbird

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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