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Involvement of the avian song system in reproductive behaviour

Wild, JM;Botelho, JF;

The song system of songbirds consists of an interconnected set of forebrain nuclei that has traditionally been regarded as dedicated to the learning and production of song. Here, however, we suggest that the song system could also influence muscles used in reproductive behaviour, such as the cloacal sphincter muscle. We show that the same medullary nucleus, retroambigualis (RAm), that projects upon spinal motoneurons innervating expiratory muscles (which provide the pressure head for vocalization) and upon vocal motoneurons for respiratory-vocal coordination also projects upon cloacal motoneurons. Furthermore, RAm neurons projecting to sacral spinal levels were shown to receive direct projections from nucleus robustus arcopallialis (RA) of the forebrain song system. Thus, by indicating a possible disynaptic relationship between RA and motoneurons innervating the reproductive organ, in both males and females, these results potentially extend the role of the song system to include consummatory as well as appetitive aspects of reproductive behaviour.